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The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)

Immediately after former Madison Kennedy Little League president Stephen Verhage was charged in Dane County Circuit Court last month with eight counts of theft and fraud between 2005 and 2012, adding up to more than $200,000, his attorney attempted to put the alleged crime in perspective.

"I think over at Kennedy, notwithstanding the fact that there wasn't as much money because of the theft, I think the experience of the league and the facilities are great," said William Ginsberg. "Nobody suffered any personal harm other than the financials."

But current Kennedy president Jerry Benisch has a different view.

"It is really unfortunate for the thousands of Kennedy families who have been or will be impacted by this crime," Benisch said in an email. "Former and current families have paid fees in good faith, and the future families will be responsible for this debt while the league waits for restitution."

Ginsberg also said that while Verhage pleaded not guilty at his initial appearance, he has taken responsibility and begun to pay restitution.

"We've been paying monthly for three to six months, somewhere between $300 and $500 a month, I think," said Ginsberg. "Since this investigation started, we've been making payments. About two thousand."

Benisch disputes that as well.

"Kennedy Little League has received a total of $1,100 restitution to date; the latest payment was last summer," Benisch said.

Several Kennedy parents were contacted for their reactions to the charges and Ginsberg's statements, but none wished to speak on the record. The contradictions are not out of character with several instances of alleged fraud revealed in the 15page criminal complaint against Verhage. It details how Benisch discovered that funds were missing from the league in November 2012 before confronting Verhage, and how the police investigation proceeded from there.

According to the complaint, Verhage met with Benisch on Nov. 2, 2012, and admitted to having stolen "approximately $10,000 to $12,000" from the league over a period of 1 ½ years. But the complaint goes on to say that Madison Police Detective Kevin Linsmeier discovered 50 checks written from the Kennedy account by Verhage to himself totaling more than $75,000. Linsmeier also reported that more than $63,000 was transferred from the league's credit union account to credit card accounts controlled by Verhage.

One part of the complaint points out that when originally asked about a check made out to a private party for $2,350, Verhage said it was used to purchase a garden trailer for league use. It was later determined by Linsmeier that the check was used to purchase a motorcycle for Verhage's personal use.


April 3, 2014


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