Dover-area youth soccer coach heads to trial on theft charges
A former boys' coach with the Pennsylvania Soccer Academy is one step closer to trial for allegedly stealing nearly $9,000 worth of players' training and tournament fees.
But defense attorney Ed Paskey said that if George Conrad Maute Jr. is guilty of anything, it's poor bookkeeping practices.
Maute, 50, of Pineview Drive in Dover Township, waived his right to a preliminary hearing on his case before District Judge David Eshbach on Thursday, April 12.
The case automatically moves to York County Court, where Maute will waive his formal court arraignment, scheduled for May 18, according to Paskey.
Paskey said he's spoken with prosecutors about Maute's case and is optimistic it will be resolved with a negotiated agreement that avoids trial.
According to the attorney, Maute lacked the intent necessary to be guilty of theft, meaning he wasn't trying to steal from the players or their parents.
Maute remains free on his own recognizance, charged with the third-degree felonies of theft by deception and receiving stolen property.
Paskey said some parents received reimbursement checks from Maute prior to charges being filed. Some parents have cashed the checks while others haven't, he said.
The background: According to charging documents filed by Northern York County Regional Police, Maute repeatedly made assurances to the academy that he would pay back the money owed to players' parents, but he didn't.
Maute coached an under-12 boys' team and an under-14 boys' team. A total of 18 families involved with the teams paid him a total of $8,720, documents state.
That money was supposed to be used for training and tournament entry fees, police said.
"Maute was given time to repay the money to the families or the league but failed to do so," police wrote.
Paskey said he has confirmation that Maute actually did pay for his teams to be entered in two tournaments at issue.
Independent teams: Jack Denney, president of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Soccer Academy, has said each soccer team is independent, with individual coaches collecting money and running their own teams.
The purpose of the soccer academy is to "make sure we're giving kids a good place to play soccer," he previously told The York Dispatch.
The academy's website states: "Teams act as independent franchises and will operate with minimal support from the organization. The formation of teams and placement of coaches must be approved by the board."
Denney said the soccer academy is an umbrella group for a number of self-sufficient teams. It doesn't hire, fire or maintain coaches, he said.
"When the parents made us aware of what was going on, we asked (Maute) to leave," Denney said.
There were issues in addition to Maute allegedly taking money from team members' families, according to Denney.
"He wasn't showing up to training sessions, and he just wasn't giving the kids what they should be getting," Denney said.
Agreed to refund fees? Denney said he also told Maute to repay the parents the money he owed them or to at least return that money to the soccer academy — and said Maute agreed to do so on a number of occasions.
"That was the last we heard (for some time)," Denney said. "I thought everything was OK. ... It's unfortunate."
Then police called him in January and told him Maute hadn't repaid parents, Denney said. He said the soccer academy is fully cooperating with the investigation.
Denney said he and other coaches have paid about $1,500 out of their own pockets to keep afloat the two teams previously coached by Maute.
Maute's alleged crime came to light when team parents started sharing information about "the money issue" and one came up with a spreadsheet that made it clear something was amiss, according to parents.
Northern Regional Police said they continue to investigate Maute.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective William Haller at 717-292-3647, or call the department's tip line, 717-467-TELL (8355). Anonymous tips can be emailed to email@example.com.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.