MADISON (WKOW) -- A Dane County judge sentenced a former Madison little league president to eleven months in jail as part of nine years probation on five felony theft charges, as a league official said player safety was compromised as a result of missing funds.
58-year old Stephen Verhage told Judge Maryann Sumi he had no excuses for stealing money over a number of years, as he served as Kennedy Little League's president, and on its board of directors. "I am terribly apologetic and sorry," Verhage told the court.
Verhage's sentence also requires him to make restitution of more than $201,000.
League president Jerry Benisch said Verhage's thefts scuttled field and facility improvements. Benisch noted batting cage netting wore down and allowed batted balls to speed out of cages, jeopardizing player and fan safety, but requests to Verhage to make repairs went unheeded.
Benisch said Verhage used stolen funds to go on vacations to Las Vegas, Arizona and other places, support hunting and fishing trips, and to buy a motorcyle.
Verhage's attorney, Bill Ginsberg said Verhage had cooperated with authorities during the criminal investigation, had no prior criminal record and donated countless hours to the league. But Sumi said league parents and officials probably wished Verhage had never set foot on the east side league's fields.
Acting Madison Police Chief Randy Gaber is a former league board of directors member, and referred a league official's concerns about Verhage's handling of league funds to detectives in 2012.
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