The president and vice president of the Lakeland Highlands Babe Ruth Baseball League were arrested on grand theft charges after allegedly stealing $50,000 from the league.
LAKELAND — The president and vice president of the Lakeland Highlands Babe Ruth Baseball League were arrested earlier this week on grand theft charges after authorities say they stole more than $50,000 from the league to purchase personal items and pay their bills.
Larry Blevins, 41, and John Sprague, 39, both of Lakeland, were arrested by Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies after the agency received tips that the two men might be involved in fraudulent activity.
Blevins was the league president and Sprague was the vice president.
The league, also known as Lakeland Highlands Baseball and Softball, inducted new board members, who did an audit of the team’s previous financial statements and found discrepancies.
During the investigation, detectives reported that both men obtained debit cards for the league’s account with BB&T, then used the cards to make purchases for their own benefit, according to reports.
Investigators said that prior to Blevins taking over the presidency, the league did not have any debit cards and did not use debit cards to conduct business.
Bank statements reviewed during the investigation revealed purchases made at area merchants, including Walmart, 7-Eleven, Publix, Amazon, Rightway Foods, Burger King, Facebook and Sunoco, as well as ATM withdrawals.
Blevins also used the debit card to pay his own personal bills, including his personal Sprint account, Lakeland Electric bill and Charter Communication bills, the sheriff’s office said.
The total of the transactions Blevins conducted between August 2017 and September 2018 came to $30,477.53, according to PCSO reports.
Sprague’s total on his team debit card was $26,052.59.
Team officials told the sheriff’s office that none of the questionable charges was authorized by the team.
Deputies arrested Blevins and Sprague late Monday evening and early Tuesday morning. They face charges of scheming to defraud over $20,000 and grand theft over $20,000.
Kathy Leigh Berkowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 863-802-7558. Follow her on Twitter @kberkowitzthel1.