A former Little League baseball administrator has offered to return $20,000 of the $24,000 he took from league coffers, but some parents want him to return the whole amount.
John Boccuzza took the money from Little League District 29 over the last three years, current administrator Jim McDaniels told parents and local league presidents in a June 27 email to local league presidents and parents. That caused a block to be put on the league’s account, delaying championship banners in getting to winning teams and preventing medals from being distributed, McDaniels wrote.
“These kids go out, they represent their town, let’s say they are fortunate enough to win it, you don’t have a trinket for them?” said Robert Metzger of Garden City South, whose three sons play in District 29. “… Bottom line is, right is right and wrong is wrong. Somebody [took the] money and they should be held accountable for it, and they should pay it back in full, with interest, or go to jail.”
At a June 20 meeting, Boccuzza proposed returning $20,000 to District 29 in $2,000 installments, paid every six months over the next five years, McDaniels said in his email.
Boccuzza has not been charged with any crime. A spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney’s office declined to comment.
District administrators are elected by each Little League district’s component leagues, according to Little League Baseball’s website.
District 29 includes leagues in New Hyde Park, Mineola, Floral Park, Garden City, Valley Stream, Franklin Square, Hempstead, Lakeview and Malverne.
Boccuzza did not respond to an email or phone call seeking comment, but told Newsday he “made a mistake after doing so much good for the Little League over 35 years. Then I got sick and unemployed and it was rough.”
“I know that’s no excuse for what I did, I messed up my good name, hurt my family and embarrassed my grandchildren,” the administrator told Newsday. “But I’m going to make restitution.”
In a reply to McDaniels’ email, Ed Voyer of the Mineola Little League said Boccuzza should return all $24,000 he took and that the matter “should be handled by the police if he does not comply.”
“Seeing how the district has funded his life for the last several years I don’t see how we should now finance it either,” Voyer wrote June 27.
Metzger said he thinks other current District 29 administrators who served while the theft happened are “complicit” and should step down.
“You’re part of the problem,” he said.
McDaniels and New Hyde Park Little League President Vincent Grunert did not respond to requests for comment.
Other Little League coffers have been subject to theft in recent years.
A league president in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey was arrested last Friday for allegedly stealing $10,000 from his league.
Vincent Carreca, a former coach in New Hyde Park’s Merillon Athletic Association, allegedly stole the money from a team of 12-year-old players in August 2014, preventing them from competing in a tournament in Cooperstown.
Carreca offered to repay the money he allegedly stole at the time.
No criminal charges are currently open against Carreca, but then-league President Anthony Camilleri filed a complaint against him with the district attorney’s office at the time.