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Sheriff's deputies probe complaint at Amsterdam Youth Baseball League

Sheriff's deputies probe complaint at Amsterdam Youth Baseball League

Treasurer says investigation centers on league money that is apparently unaccounted for
Sheriff's deputies probe complaint at Amsterdam Youth Baseball League
Photographer: File photo

AMSTERDAM -- The Montgomery County Sheriff's Department is investigating a criminal complaint involving the Amsterdam Youth Baseball League, Sheriff Jeff Smith said Friday.

"It's in its infancy stages and at this time there is nothing else we can release while the investigation proceeds," Smith said. "I would not comment on what the complaint pertains to at this time ... because the more things that get out, whether it's in an article or a coffee shop, affects or could affect how the investigation unfolds." 

Bryan Clute, treasurer for the league, said the investigation centers on league money that is apparently unaccounted for. He said he filed the complaint that led to the current police investigation.

Clute said he was reviewing the organization's financial books in December to prepare for the 2020 season when he discovered what he believes are some financial discrepancies -- specifically, less money in the account than there should be.

"Based off of the records I pulled, it looked like we have lost a significant amount of money over the past two years," Clute said. "I'd set [a count of] that money anywhere between $25,000 and $47,000 between the two years. There are some discrepancies because not all of the records were turned over to me to do my research." 

Paul Antonelli, who has served as the league’s president, declined comment Friday evening. Antonelli works as a staff sportswriter for The Daily Gazette Co., which publishes The Daily Gazette and The Recorder.

Clute, who works as a manager in mortgage refinancing for Allied First Bank, said he was appointed treasurer of the baseball league in October 2018, but it wasn't until six months later that he was given access to the organization's books. Clute said he initiated the criminal investigation by filing a complaint with authorities.

Prior to his appointment as treasurer, Clute said, he volunteered as a coach for the league. He said he has two sons, ages 4 and 12, who play in the league.  

Clute said he believes the alleged missing money is related to cash deposits from the league's concession stand that didn't make it into the organization's bank account. 

He said he filed a formal complaint first with the Amsterdam Police Department, who then turned the matter over to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department because the league plays its games in the town of Amsterdam at Isabel's Field. 

Clute would not comment on who among the board of directors for the league would have had access to the organization's money.

"Until these things are proven, you really can't speak out for fear of being libelous," he said. "I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that I would never take money from kids, and it has absolutely nothing to do with me, but I'm not going to point out people for fear of the league being sued for slander." 

Clute said he and other league officials are in the process of organizing for the upcoming season, and the problems he believes he has discovered with the organization's funding will not negatively affect players or coaches.

"There were some improvements over the last two years that we could have made that we didn't have the opportunity to make, but everything is fine with the league functioning this year," he said. "We're joining Little League this year, so we're expecting our best season so far. There are a lot of great things that are being put into place and one bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch." 

The Amsterdam Youth Baseball League expects to have about 190 children signed up, ranging in age from 4 to 13, with teams that will likely play 12 to 16 games during the season, which typically starts mid-April. Sign-ups for the league will be ongoing until March 23. 

Clute said the league’s board of directors has decided to spend up to $850 on new security for the concessions operation to prevent future problems. 

"We're installing cameras, about $100, which requires an internet connection, about $50 per month. We're installing a [point-of-sale tracking] system that costs a little more than $400," Clute said. "We're changing our door locks, another $150. We're changing our drop box, which is another $100."   

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