Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Joplin Little League president pleads guilty to stealing $50,000
The former president of the Joplin South Little League has pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing approximately $50,000 from the Joplin, Mo., organization.
Diane L. Heikkila, 41, of Joplin, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush on Monday, June 27, 2016, to a federal information that charges her with wire fraud.
By pleading guilty, Heikkila admitted that she engaged in a scheme to defraud and embezzle approximately $50,000 from the Joplin South Little League from September 2010 through January 2014.
Heikkila, while president, used the organization’s bank debit/credit card to make numerous purchases for personal gain. Heikkila often received “cash back” from the point-of-sale purchases when utilizing the debit/credit card. There were 217 incidents identified where “cash back” from point-of-sale transactions took place, with a total of $17,360 received as “cash back,” but these monies were never returned to the organization.
Heikkila also used the organization’s debit/credit card at ATMs to receive cash unrelated to the expenses of the Joplin South Little League. For example, on June 10, 2013, Heikkila fraudulently used the Joplin South Little League’s debit/credit card to conduct a $503 ATM withdrawal ($500 with a $3 fee) at Downstream Casino in Quapaw, Okla.
Heikkila also wrote and cashed checks to herself from the Joplin South Little League and often made cash withdrawals from the Joplin South Little League bank account.
The treasurer for the Joplin South Little League began reviewing account statements for the organization and in early 2014 discovered suspicious transactions taking place at retail stores, ATMs and casinos. The concerns were brought to the attention of the executive board for the Joplin South Little League and after a review Heikkila was removed from her position in March 2014.
Under the terms of her plea agreement, Heikkila must pay a money judgment in the amount of $50,000.
Under federal statutes, Heikkila is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the FBI.