A longtime umpire in his first year of running tournaments for Farmington Youth Baseball has been charged with stealing as much as $2,200 in raffle proceeds from the group to pay his own bills.
The Dakota County Attorney's office on Monday charged 32-year-old Brandon James Bruha with taking the money raised during a July tournament.
According to the formal complaint Bruha was in charge of collecting the money from the raffle, which was held to raise money for the organization's general operating fund. By the end of the summer, Bruha still hadn't turned the money over to the organization. Questioned about it, he said someone had stolen the money from his home. Pressed further, the complaint states, he admitted spending the money and told league members he'd collected $2,200.
In a statement to police Bruha said he used the money to pay his personal bills. He said he intended to pay the money back.
Bruha had spent several years as an umpire for the league and typically officiated games for the older teams. He was in his first year on the FYB board and served as tournament director.
"It's an unfortunate situation," said FYB director Tom Severson. "We were left without much option but to proceed through legal matters."
In a letter to league families sent out in December Severson said the board is going through a series of regular audits and will make any necessary changes to its policies, including more rigorous accounting practices.
Severson said the theft should not hurt the FYB's finances.
"The whole youth baseball program is still in a very good financial position," Severson said. "It will have little or no impact for our 2010 season."
If convicted on a felony theft charge Bruha could face up to five years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.