Pop Warner treasurer accused of stealing $100K

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SAN DIEGO -- A former treasurer for Vista Pop Warner Football and Cheer was arrested Wednesday morning for allegedly embezzling more than $100,000 from the organization's accounts.

Rachel Owens, 41, was taken into custody at her current workplace on suspicion of several counts of identity theft and grand theft, according to sheriff's Lt. Greg Rylaarsdam.

Owens was the treasurer for Vista Pop Warner Football and Cheer from October 2013 to November of last year, Rylaarsdam said.  Around the time she left, the sheriff's department's Cyber Financial Crimes Unit began investigating a report of possible embezzlement of funds from the organization, he said.

"Detectives determined there was probable cause to believe Owens was responsible for the theft of over $100,000 from the accounts she managed,'' Rylaarsdam said, and obtained a warrant for her arrest.

Owens was booked into the Vista Detention Facility, with bail set at $300,000, Rylaarsdam said.

“She just took advantage of it. She knew what the system was and she took advantage of it," said Vista Pop Warner Attorney and Coach Ken Elliott.

Ken Elliott, a lawyer who also is a parent and coaches a team in the league, says board members began to become suspicious when vendors started calling asking why they weren't being paid for services. As the board began to look into it, they discovered thousands of dollars were missing and checks were bouncing.

“It’s been hard on the board, they’re trying to keep the program running. It’s been hard on the kids, not knowing exactly what’s going on. It’s been hard on the parents who’ve been doing the fundraising; they’re upset wondering what happened to their money… It’s had a real bad effect on the end of the season.” Said Attorney Ken Elliott.

This is the second time Vista Pop Warner has been hit by embezzlement. In 2003, the parent who served as the league’s treasurer was convicted, sentenced and ordered to pay back $37,000 she pilfered from the group.

“We’re trying to work on making that right. The board is doing some fundraising now to try to get us back in the black, to get our vendors paid off… hopefully they’ll work with us. So we can run as normal this year so that they don’t feel the effects too much.” Said Attorney Ken Elliott. “The money is being managed differently now than it was much, much differently ‘cause we live with this everyday.”

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