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Police: Youth sports funds used for concert tickets, car payments

DACULA -- A country music fan with a heart for manatees and Mexican food is accused of stealing more than $24,000 from a Dacula youth sports association.

The president of the Mountain View Athletic Association, Brian Mearkle, told Gwinnett Police that $45,000 from association funds is missing, and records show $24,017.24 was spent in Gwinnett County. Mearkle told police the suspect, Steven Brindle, was the president who preceded him at the association.

The former president allegedly transferred funds online from one or more of the seven accounts that belonged to the association, then used a debit card to make online transactions and other transactions without permission, the police report said.

The fraudulent charges to the account included tickets to a Kenny Chesney concert ($447.60), a "Save the Manatee" contribution ($35) and at least four visits to Del Rio Mexican Grill in Dacula.

The nonprofit association offers youth sports programs at Rabbit Hill Park in Dacula, including baseball, softball, lacrosse, wrestling, football and cheerleading. The association had its opening day for baseball and softball on Saturday, according to its website.

The Association's by-laws state that it exists to promote, encourage, direct and operate athletic programs for the youth of the Mountain View community, and it would strive to promote good sportsmanship.

Records of missing fees began on Aug. 6, and continued through Feb. 14, according to a police report.

Alleged fraudulent charges also included a purchase from Cinderella's Closet in Lilburn for $413.30, three car payments at $628.06 each, an $84.98 purchase at 1-800-Flowers and a Jackson EMC bill payment of $376.50.

Five ATM withdrawals of $1,000 or more were made, including a $3,000 transaction on Nov. 15.

Only three charges came in September, none in October, but 57 were in December, including 10 on Christmas Eve.

Officials with the association told police that they looked into possible missing funds after someone came forward needing money in an account for a sport.

A police report did not list any criminal charges, and called the incident an active investigation.

Comments

NewsReader 1 year, 1 month ago

This behavior is a common thread in Gwinnett County. Mill Creek Athletic Association experienced theft of over $100K a few years ago. The community struggles to meet the payment demands so their children can engage in sports activities for people to so callously steal the money for their own personal self-serving motivations. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to jail!

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Kat 1 year, 1 month ago

Did this idiot really think he/she wouldn't be caught?

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BuzzG 1 year, 1 month ago

Heck, this kind of behavior should be considered training for a position on the Gwinnett County BOC.

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HonestIngine 1 year, 1 month ago

Either the BOC...or one of our fine State Legislators.... that need to be voted out...

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gwinnettnative 1 year, 1 month ago

This is just very sad.....to steal from children is just not right at all. Look where he used the association's card...looks like someone is wearing a dress that was bought on stolen money and a someone special received flowers as well. Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation needs to have a more strict checks and balances on the individual associations that utlilize our county parks. I am sure that there are more associations in this same boat...he just got caught.

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kevin 1 year, 1 month ago

This person will probably only get a slap on the wrist. Better yet, he might get a public building named after him.

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

Naw, just a statue on the Soccer field ...

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gwinnettnative 1 year, 1 month ago

R - this is funny! Kind of like a Kenerly statue!

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smcree 1 year, 1 month ago

It is sad that someone would put their wants and luxuries over those of the children they were supposed to be helping but getting this new association up and running. From what I have heard from others he has had his hand with other booster clubs at Mountain View High School. I hope all teams/associations that he was involved in are checking their books with a fine tooth comb. Such a sad situation, but these associations need to put checks and balances in place immediately upon setting a new association up.

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Tiger_holla 1 year, 1 month ago

As a person who was heavily involved in starting up another Athletic Association everyone needs to understand that these are run by volunteers. You are only as good as the volunteers that you have. Usually it is a small group of key people trying to do everything. Then you have others in these associations that just want to sit back and throw stones because things are not getting done. All parents need to get involved if they want things done right. I promise you these associations will not turn away people who truly want to volunteer and help these associations get things done. I think the county should step in and have more dealings with day to day operations of these types of Athletic Association. Maybe the county should put in place strict guidelines on the financials and reporting them to the county. If the association can’t provide this type of accountability then the county should not allow them to use the facilities. If Mountain View does not have any money I wonder how they are going to pay back the county for the press box that they funded for them over at the multipurpose field. With all of this said I hope that Gwinnett County makes an example out of this clown and they give him the maximum penalty. Good luck MVAA on moving forward and recovering from this.

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MacLax1965 1 year, 1 month ago

Tiger Holla: There are county guide lines but with the county being stretched thin due to budget constraints oversight is tough. As to MVAA making its pressbox payments, they are figuring it out. They are ramping up their corporate sponsorship drive and the business community is stepping up to help the kids. They have a tough road to hoe but the core group of individuals doing the Bear's share of the work are committed to making MVAA a successful organization.

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NewsReader 1 year, 1 month ago

Spare us the lecture. People don't have the time, nor the patience, to put up with the egos and arrogance that is little league sports. The bottom line: There are bylaws and they aren't being followed, else something like this couldn't go on for more than a month or two. There are purposefully checks and balances to prevent people from doing this sort of thing. I know because I've read the bylaws and I have also written them. So while these people are volunteering, it's only because of "how can my weighted position of authority give my child an advantage over the somebody else's child".

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Binky1966 1 year, 1 month ago

Sadly, situations like this shine a bad light on volunteers in general. I have been involved with volunteering on youth sports boards for several years and know of many very honest people who have put in countless hours into their communities, not just to further their own child's advantage, but for the love of the sport/community. This negative light keeps good, qualified volunteers from stepping up, when they are clearly very desperately needed. We need to stop sweeping this under the rug and bring these thieves to justice. The Mill Creek treasurer ($150k) from a few years back, and most recently, the Gwinnett Football League treasurer ($50+k), stole tens of thousands of dollars from their organization and as long as the money was paid back, were never prosecuted. So you ask, why did Mr. Brindle think he could get away with it? Easy. Basically, the others did, so why not him? This entire situation sickens me, however, I know that this organization will recover from this and will be stronger and for it. They started from scratch only a few short years ago and they can start over again. Go Bears!

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Haughton 1 year, 1 month ago

One bad apple spoils the whole bunch. People are more desperate due to loss of jobs and wealth and they simply don't care. They are in the news one day and another bad seed replaces them tomorrow. There is no shame anymore because there is always someone that trumps your badness. Wealth envy and entitlement of all shapes and forms have shaped our culture this way. The American way and this is the way we are looked at globally.

I feel most for the people that volunteer for decades in our communities and do no wrong. Their kids get ridiculed by childish adults and their wives can't run errands in peace. A very small percentage runs the community and volunteer while the majority sit back and complain. I survived and so did my family.

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