Edward Leuthner, Eric Vargas charged with stealing $50,000 from Medina little league

Police say the men used phony invoices to run a kickback scheme with the club's money.

Police say the men used phony invoices to run a kickback scheme with the club's money. Stuart Seeger

The president of the Hamel Athletic Club conspired with an employee of a screen printing business to steal $50,000 that would have been used for little league baseball programs in Medina and the surrounding area, according to charges filed in Hennepin County on Tuesday.

The unraveling of the ruse began with the meticulous work of the athletic club treasurer, who reexamined the club’s expenditures last summer and discovered that many of the real invoices, supplied by the management of Xtreme Custom Apparel in Blaine, contradicted her records.

In one case, the club was charged more than $9,000 for nearly 500 hats, when the club had only wanted 144 hats for $1,440. In another, the club was charged more than $5,000 for 144 baseballs, which Xtreme Custom Apparel did not even sell.

According to the criminal complaint, these suspicious transactions began when the Hamel Athletic Club president, 49-year-old Edward Leuthner, was added to the banking accounts in February 2016.

The treasurer told Medina Police that when she confronted Leuthner, he became upset, telling her she had no business asking him about the club’s finances, and that she “could get them both in trouble.”

Police then interviewed 28-year-old Eric Vargas, an employee of Xtreme Custom Apparel, who admitted that it was Leuthner who’d pitched him a plan in which Vargas would send Leuthner inflated invoices to be paid with athletic club funds. Vargas would then kick back cash to Leuthner.

Further investigation found that Leuthner allegedly began stealing from the club even before he was added to the banking accounts. According to the complaint, he wrote himself a $5,800 reimbursement check for the purchase of a Bobcat UTV that supposedly belonged to his mom.

Police interviewed Leuthner’s mother, who told them she never owned a Bobcat. Leuthner is also accused of using $504 of club money to buy a Visa gift card and spending $500 on supplements.

Both Leuthner and Vargas are charged with felony theft by swindle, with comes with a maximum of 20 years or $100,000.