The President and Vice President of the Lakeland Highlands Babe Ruth Baseball League arrested were arrested and both charged with Scheming to Defraud over $20,000 and Grand Theft over $20,000.
“This is one of the highest thefts from a sports league in Polk County that I can remember. This is truly shocking behavior. Stealing from kids and parents–just terrible. We are glad that other members of this board sought transparency and made our investigation possible.” said Sheriff Grady Judd.
On November 4 and 5, 2019, Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 41-year-old Larry Blevins of Lakeland and 39-year-old John Sprague of Lakeland for Scheme to Defraud over $20,000, Grand Theft over $20,000. Blevins was President and Sprague was Vice President of the Lakeland Highlands Babe Ruth Baseball League (LHBRB) also known as Lakeland Highlands Baseball and Softball.
Detectives received information about possible fraudulent activity by the two men and began investigating in September of 2018. New board members at that time reviewed previous financial statements and discovered discrepancies. Detectives learned through their investigation between the months of August 2017 and September 2018, Larry Blevins and John Sprague engaged in a systematic ongoing course of conduct with the intent to deprive the LHBRB of U.S. Currency.
Upon assuming the duties of President and Vice-President, Mr. Blevins and Mr. Sprague obtained debit cards for the LHBRB bank accounts with BB&T. Mr. Blevins and Mr. Sprague each obtained debit cards and then used the cards to make purchases for their own benefit. Prior to Mr. Blevins becoming the president, LHBRB did not have any debit cards for the BB&T account and did not conduct transactions with any debit cards.
Detectives received the bank statements and learned there were purchases made at area merchants to include Wal-Mart, 7-Eleven, Publix, Amazon, Rightway Foods, Burger King, Facebook, Sunoco, and ATM withdrawals. Detectives also learned through the bank statements that Mr. Blevins was paying for his personal bills with funds from the league’s BB&T account. Mr. Blevins paid his personal Sprint, Lakeland Electric, and Charter Communications bills with the card.
Between August 2017 and September 2018, Mr. Blevins conducted transactions totaling $30,477.53 causing the league to suffer a monetary loss of the same amount.
Between October 2017 and September 2018, Mr. Sprague conducted transactions totaling $26,052.59 causing the league to suffer a monetary loss of the same amount.
Detectives confirmed with other board members of the league that none of the charges were questionable charges were authorized.
Blevens and Sprague were arrested late in the evening on November 4 and early in the morning on November 5th.