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AYSO Official Charged in $100,000 Theft

October 02, 2003|David Haldane Times Staff Writer | Times Staff Writer

A regional commissioner with the American Youth Soccer Organization has been charged with stealing more than $100,000 from the nonprofit's Newport Beach office, authorities said.

Anthony Leon Anish, 55, surrendered to Newport Beach police about 1 p.m. Wednesday, department spokesman Sgt. Steve Shulman said. Bail was set at $50,000.

"The detectives are very satisfied that they were able to get [an arrest] warrant," Shulman said. "But from a community standpoint, we are certainly disappointed that money that was to benefit these kids was lost."

Anish, a Costa Mesa resident, oversaw the finances of AYSO Region 97, which serves more than 1,500 children in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa and had a reserve fund of $120,000, from February 2001 until May.

According to a civil lawsuit filed in June, he squandered most of the money on personal investments, house payments and four Los Angeles Galaxy season tickets with preferred parking, leaving the organization with less than $20,000 in the bank.

"We haven't recovered the money," Shulman said. "I don't know where it went."

Other AYSO officials said they became suspicious about a year ago, when Anish refused to provide financial information or show monthly reports.

Local AYSO officials were in "disbelief because it was something for the kids and the community," Chris Sarris, a coach and board member who took over Anish's position, said when the civil suit was filed. "We had to start from zero again."

A pretrial hearing is set for Oct. 15.

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