Detectives say former deputy bilked thousands from youth soccer league

SPOKANE, Wash. - Soccer embezzlement

Spokane Police fraud detectives are asking prosecutors to file theft and money laundering charges against a former reserve sheriff's deputy for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 from a youth soccer group.

Investigators say Shawn Leroy Meese, 43, used his position as a board member of the Inland Empire Youth Soccer Association to access the non-profit's bank accounts.

Police say the on-going thefts went unnoticed for several months because Meese switched IEYSA's business account from America West Bank to Spokane Teacher's Credit Union.

Meese used the stolen money to buy two new cars, according to detectives, who have seized the cars, a Chevy Equinox and a GMC Yukon. Investigation records indicate Meese may have also written checks to himself and paid off personal credit debt. Execution of search warrants at Meese's residence show that he may have also purchased firearms and jewelry with the association's finances.

"A lot of the money went into his account tainting the account and eventually went to payoff loans, make payments on vehicles utility payments, house payments," Spokane Police Detective Kirk Kimberly said.

The property was seized in order to help pay back money stolen from the IEYSA.

"That was our hope and one of the reasons for seizing the vehicles," Kimberly said. "Full restitution is preferable, we're here trying to make the victim whole as well as hopefully see justice done through the prosecution process."

Court records show investigators believe Meese, who stepped down as a reserve sheriff's deputy five years ago, stole $139,740 dollars from the group over a year and a half period. His actions nearly bankrupted the association.

The theft wiped out the IEYSA's funds and the group's board members had to take out a bank loan to keep kids on the field.

The charging request against Meese being forwarded by the Fraud Unit to the prosecutor's office is asking that he be charged with one charge of 1st degree theft and 14 counts of money laundering.