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Woman Is Arrested in Booster Club Theft

Crime: The Irvine resident is accused of embezzling the funds from a Woodbridge High group and a youth baseball team.


The former president of a high school athletic booster club was arrested Tuesday in connection with the embezzlement of more than $69,000 from that and another Irvine organization for which she had served as a volunteer banker and bookkeeper.

Melissa Ann Kucera, 48, of Irvine was being held at the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana on suspicion of embezzlement and grand theft, authorities said. Bail was set at $25,000.

"Basically the case is complete," said Sgt. Rick Handfield, an Irvine police spokesman.

An investigation began last month after parents and coaches at Woodbridge High School reported that thousands of dollars raised by the booster club for the school's baseball team had disappeared, Handfield said. They said profits from fund-raisers had declined, checks for weight-room equipment had bounced and part-time coaches had not been paid.

About the same time, parents of players in Irvine's Thundercats Baseball Team, an independent summer-league club to which some of the high school players belonged, discovered that their entire operating budget was gone. The money was to cover such things as uniforms and travel expenses for an upcoming tournament in Hawaii, authorities said.

Investigations eventually pointed to Kucera, who had been entrusted with checks, cash and financial accounts for both organizations, Handfield said.

Investigators traced $61,776 in funds misappropriated from the booster club from July 1999 to June 2001 to Kucera, some of it directly into her personal bank account, Handfield said. About $7,520 was misappropriated from the Thundercats team between June and August this year, he said.

A man who answered the telephone at Kucera's home late Tuesday declined to identify himself and said the family would have no comment on the charges.

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