MOUNT VERNON — A former coach was ordered to pay restitution and participate in a probation program Jan. 22 in Knox County Common Pleas Court after stealing more than $6,000 from his softball team.
Zachary Belt, 32, Marion, was indicted in May 2019 for theft of a total of $6,307 from an amateur softball team whom he coached for. The theft occurred over the span of eight months from Oct. 5, 2017, to May 18, 2018, according to the indictment.
Belt was found taking cash and using the team’s credit card for his own purposes, said Knox County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Christine Williams.
Unfortunately, theft of organization money is a common problem. Williams said the prosecutor’s office currently has similar cases pending. In the past, the office has also prosecuted a band parent for using the band’s money for personal purposes, according to Williams.
“Just think of the ease (parents or owners) could have to fly under the radar,” said Williams. These offenses often do not come to light until someone starts actively looking into the organization’s finances, she said.
In Belt’s case, the owner and the accountant of the softball team together made the effort to collect and provide evidence of the theft to law enforcement. Although unusual circumstances dictated a lengthy process — the original officer retired and had to hand over the investigation to a new officer, which involved a lot of audits, according to Williams — the evidence was enough to eventually lead to Belt’s conviction.
When asked about what organizations could do to better safeguard against theft, Williams said: “Have lots of eyes. Have the money go through multiple people, not just one person.”
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