Volunteer pleads guilty to stealing almost $1 million from Long Beach center, youth soccer league

A former volunteer treasurer for a merchant seaman organization in Long Beach and a youth soccer league in Anaheim pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for embezzling nearly $1 million, a prosecutor said.

Jose Antonio Urrutia, 65, of Placentia, pleaded guilty Thursday to 167 counts of forgery and 14 counts of grand theft, with sentencing-enhancement allegations of property damage exceeding $200,000 and aggravated white-collar crime of more than $500,000.

He was ordered to pay about $805,000 in restitution, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Nagy Morcos. So far, Urrutia has repaid $145,913.41. Investigators determined the total loss in the case was $951,816.19, Morcos said.

Urrutia, who was arrested Sept. 6, could have faced up to 130 years in prison if convicted of the felony charges, at trial.

The defendant, whose full-time job was as a financial reporting controls officer at the Port of Long Beach, is a licensed certified public accountant, according to former Senior Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche, the original prosecutor on the case.

During the time of the alleged embezzlement, he was a volunteer treasurer for the Junior United Soccer Association of Anaheim and the International Seafarers Center in Long Beach, which is “kind of a USO” for merchant seamen in the Long Beach Port, the prosecutor said.

A bookkeeper at the youth soccer organization uncovered the fraud in August 2014, according to the criminal complaint. After a series of issues with the defendant regarding the club’s expenses, she gained access to the organization’s bank accounts and noticed discrepancies, according to the prosecution.

When the organization’s officials tried to contact the defendant about payroll early because of the Thanksgiving holiday, he did not respond, so the bookkeeper logged onto the bank account and saw there wasn’t enough money for salaries, according to the complaint.

Eventually, the defendant responded to queries from the soccer organization with a resignation letter, according to the complaint.

Urrutia started working for the youth soccer association in 2007.

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