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Laura Zellerbach, former treasurer of the Fullerton Rangers Youth Soccer Club, was arrested Wednesday on 27 charges of embezzlement and other felonies in connection with $250,000 allegedly taken from the club, according to Fullerton Police.
The additional charges against the 41-year-old Long Beach resident included money laundering, forgery of records, grand theft and misappropriation of property.
The soccer club, which separately is facing questions from the city over its use of fields and membership, filed a complaint in May 2015 against Zellerbach, alleging embezzlement of funds between 2012 and 2014.
“Fullerton Police Detectives conducted an extensive investigation which revealed funds in excess of $174,000 had been embezzled by Mrs. Zellerbach during the time that she was the treasurer of the Fullerton Rangers Youth Soccer Club,” said Wednesday’s police department news release. The total amount in the charges against her, including the additional accusations, is $250,000.
Last fall, according to Fullerton Rangers President Raul M. Valdivia, the club reached a civil court settlement with Zellerbach. Because the settlement is confidential, he said he is unable to disclose the amount.
Members of the Rangers’ board of directors met Tuesday with city officials to discuss a range of issues, centered on the nonprofit’s use of taxpayer-financed fields.
“They were out of compliance (in terms of providing documents about their activities) and we put them on notice they were out of compliance,” said City Manager Joe Felz in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Among other things, club officers must provide proof that at least 80 percent of the soccer players live in Fullerton. The numbers can fluctuate from year to year but the club has anywhere between 1,100 and 2,200 boys and girls.
“The (city) priority is for recreational, rather than competitive use,” said Felz. He said the city discovered in November that the Rangers had formed a private for-profit company under the umbrella of the non-profit. The for-profit company handled some training and other activities to help players qualify for more competitive teams.
“We want to make sure there is not inappropriate use of city fields by that private company,” said Felz.
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