Former youth sports leader pleads guilty

GLENDALE — The former president of a Glendale youth football organization has been sentenced to serve 16 months in prison for embezzling more than $42,000 from the group to pay for personal bills and items, officials said Wednesday.

Tina Marquez, 41, pleaded no contest last week to one felony count of grand theft of personal property and another felony count of forgery for stealing funds from the Glendale Bears Youth Football and Cheerleading organization while it was under her leadership, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

“We are happy with the outcome of the case,” said Glendale Bears board member Vincent Muniz. “It’s a shame that it happened.”

Marquez, who is already serving a two-year prison sentence for disability insurance fraud, was also ordered to repay $42,228 to the group, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court officials. Marquez will serve her 16-month term in addition to her existing two-year term.

The embezzlement was discovered after parents voiced concerns that Marquez was misappropriating funds. They said they were frustrated that their children weren’t wearing updated uniforms and playing with new sports equipment despite having shelled out more than $250 per player in program enrollment fees.

Soon after, group board members discovered their funds were missing and outstanding debt had gone unpaid.

Marquez made cash withdrawals and unauthorized debit card purchases from March 12, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010 from the group’s bank accounts, according to court documents.

She bought music on iTunes, leased a vehicle, paid for restaurants, groceries, dental visits, gas and clothing services, police said. She also purchased items sent to a California prison inmate, police said.

She was the second group member to embezzle tens of thousands of dollars from the organization since 2008.

The organization's former treasurer, Louella Lucas Ragland, stole, then fled with, $31,222 in July 2008 after a large enrollment drive. Ragland was eventually convicted, ordered to serve three years of probation and refund the stolen money.

Though Ragland was appointed to her position under Marquez’s leadership, police said there was no indication the pair were working together to embezzle funds from the group.

Ragland has yet to repay the group, and Muniz said he is also not counting on receiving money from Marquez.

“I doubt we will see any money,” Muniz said. “I hope that we do.”

Board members have been working hard to rebuild the organization and have established a system of financial checks and balances.

Parents, Muniz said, have also been supportive in providing additional help wherever they can.

Players were outfitted with new uniforms and equipment this season.

“We are trying to move forward now and put that behind us,” Muniz said.

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