Laura Alicia Zellerbach, former treasurer for the Fullerton Rangers Youth Soccer Club, pleaded guilty Friday to four felonies in connection with the embezzlement and money laundering of more than $174,000 from the club, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ office reported.
The 41-year-old Zellerbach was sentenced to one year in jail, ordered to repay the Rangers $227,000 and will spend five years on formal probation, according to a DA’s office news release.
Zellerbach, a Long Beach resident, has already repaid $106,000, the news release said. The club reached a legal agreement with Zellerbach last fall, Rangers’ President Raul M. Valdivia said earlier this week. But he couldn’t disclose the amount she agreed to repay because the settlement terms were confidential, he said.
Fullerton Police arrested Zellerbach Feb. 3 on 26 counts of money laundering, forgery of records, grand theft and misappropriation of property. She was treasurer of the youth sports club from April 2013 through January 2015.
Zellerbach pleaded guilty to one felony count of embezzlement by fiduciary of trust, one felony count of falsifying records, one felony count of money laundering, and one felony count of computer access and fraud, with a sentencing enhancement for property damage or loss over $65,000, the DA’s office reported.
According to the news release, the volunteer treasurer “had access to all of the individual team accounts and club organization accounts. At the time of the crime, she handled the finances for a business she and her husband owned, Zellcorp Inc. dba Restaurant Packaging Group.”
It said she embezzled more than $174,000 from the Rangers by transferring money from team accounts into her personal account, making withdrawals from Ranger accounts at a bank or ATM and by using debit cards.
“She laundered the embezzled money by transferring the funds into her personal accounts and using the money as capital loans from her personal account to fund Zellcorp Inc.,” the news release reported. “She withdrew over $20,000 for a cashier’s check to partially pay for a European vacation for her children.”
In addition to its losses from Zellerbach, the Rangers are under separate scrutiny from the city, which is seeking proof 80 percent of the roughly 1,100 to 2,200 children who belong to the club each year live in Fullerton. The 80 percent rule is a requirement for sports teams to use taxpayer funded city fields. The team also is being required to provide other documentation to prove it meets city requirements.
According to records in the state Attorney General’s office, the team also is at least one year behind in filing its federal non-profit tax returns. It receives about $1 million a year in fees and other income and spends roughly the same amount.
Club officials, citing the cost, said in spite of the embezzlement losses, they have not conducted an audit of the club’s finances.
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