2 men swindled more than $50K from Hamel little league program

- Two men pleaded guilty to swindling more than $50,000 from the Hamel Athletic Club, which supports a little league baseball program. 

Edward Roy Leuthner, 50, of Corcoran pleaded guilty to one count of theft by swindle and paid $45,000 in restitution, according to the Hennepin County attorney's office. He was sentenced to three years of probation and will also serve 67 days in the work house and on electronic home monitoring.

Eric Benjamin Vargas, 49, of Andover, pleaded guilty to theft by swindle over $1,000 and less than $5,000. He is expected to receive probation for three years and serve a total of 30 days in the workhouse and on electronic home monitoring. Vargas may also have to pay restitution in the amount of $5,000.

According to the criminal complaints, Leuthner was the president of the Hamel Athletic Club.

He began swindling "almost immediately" after he was added to the athletic club’s banking accounts in February 2016. Leuthner approached Vargas, who runs a sports apparel company, and convinced him to send "inflated invoices to the athletic club when they purchased jerseys and hats and then refund the difference in cash to Leuthner."

Over time, Vargas also sent invoices for items the shop did not even sell.

The scheme was uncovered by the treasurer of the Hamel Athletic Club last July. Leuthner intimidated her and she resigned.

Mike Mohs, the current president of the Hamel Athletic Club, said that as a result of Leuthner’s theft, families have had to pay increased fees, field maintenance and improvements have had to be put off and "the reputation of the club is tarnished and it will take years to rebuild community trust."

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