VISTA, Calif. - Mistakes were made in how Vista Pop Warner's board of directors handled the association's money, and those mistakes may have made it easier for someone to misappropriate the funds that were supposed to be spent on kids.
The board is now working with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to investigate who drained Vista Pop Warner's accounts of nearly $100,000 over the past two years.
A lawyer representing Vista Pop Warner told Team 10 the person suspected of taking the money is a former board member who had access to the accounts.
Vista Pop Warner Vice President Andrew Staicer admitted to Team 10 he sometimes signed blank checks in the name of convenience. He said it was common practice to pre-sign checks to pay for referee services.
"In hindsight, it was a mistake," Staicer admitted.
He said that since the board is made up of volunteers, it operates with a sense of trust that they will all work together for the 300 children that play on Vista Pop Warner teams.
Staicer said the board had no reason to suspect wrongdoing until checks to vendors began bouncing last fall.
"The reports we were getting from the treasurer were not accurate reports," he explained. "They didn't reflect what our true balances were in all of our accounts. Nor did they reflect that our vendors weren't getting paid like she said they were getting paid."
"Forgive me, but a teacher who is also an accountant is one of the last places we're gonna look for issues in that area," Staicer told Team 10.
Staicer said the board is now working to come up with new policies to safeguard the association's funds. He hopes what happened will "galvanize" the community to come up with financial support for Vista Pop Warner.
A fundraiser is being planned at a local brewery later this month.