An alleged embezzlement of possibly more than $100,000 in league funds may prevent a Hilo midget football team from traveling to Florida next month to play in the Pop Warner Super Bowl.
No one has been able to confirm the exact amount of money allegedly stolen, but the case was investigated by the Hawaii Police Department’s Kona Criminal Investigations Section and passed on to prosecutors for further investigation and possible charges.
“At this point, because it’s uncharged and we’re in the preliminary stages of the criminal process, I’m not able to speak to the facts of the case,” Deputy Prosecutor Kauanoe Jackson, who is assigned to the case, said Monday.
Jackson would not identify the individual being investigated, but league officials say it was the league’s former treasurer, Greta “Pua” Correa of Waimea, and that was confirmed by an official source.
Correa has not been arrested or charged with any criminal offenses and the Stephens Media Hawaii couldn’t obtain a phone number to contact her.
The Panaewa Alii midget team won the Pop Warner Western Regional finals on Saturday, defeating Maui’s Wailuku Rainbows 30-8 at Wong Stadium in Hilo.
The Alii team advances to the Pop Warner Super Bowl starting Dec. 7 in Kissimmee, Fla., provided they can raise the funds necessary to go — funds that league officials say would have been in the coffers.
“They’re scrambling for money. They can’t pay for their trip outright, right now,” said Brenda Kuamoo, the Big Island Pop Warner Football Conference secretary, who has also taken on treasurer’s duties.
As for the alleged embezzlement, Kuamoo would only say that “it’s in the hands of the judicial system right now.”
William “Bo” Waite, the Big Island’s conference president, said that the travel fund is missing “between $75,000 and $80,000.” That was money that the league’s teams kicked in from fundraising efforts, at $2,000 per year per team between 2006 and 2010. He said that additional money from ticket sales and vendor’s fees has gone missing, as well.
“The money itself represents a lot of hard work and dedication of every parent, grandparent, aunty, uncle, and whoever helped with the fundraising,” Waite said of the missing travel funds. “It represents the hard work of the kids selling $2 spam musubi, $3 Big Island Candies, $7 sweet breads, $10 steak fries.
“All that effort is gone, just because of one individual. I’m hoping that the people look at that and understand that it was done by one individual, feel for the kids and kokua.”
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.