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updated: 4/25/2012 12:02 AM

Police: South Elgin man rips off Indiana youth baseball team

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Parents of a northwest Indiana youth baseball team are scrambling to put together a season for their 11-year-old sons, after a South Elgin man who was coaching the team skipped town with nearly $8,000 of their funds.

The Hobart Deep River Devils had been promised a schedule of up to 60 games under their new coach who took over in the fall, but when the first real game rolled around April 15, he sent a text message saying it was canceled.

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"It was a couple nice days and parents started getting suspicious," said Hobart Police Lt. David Grissom. "He was supposed to meet all the parents at the high school on Friday night to give their money back."

The coach never showed, and as parents investigate where the $675 per child went, they are realizing that he never ordered jerseys and never paid for any tournaments the team thought they were scheduled for.

"He (said he) ordered the uniforms in February, and kept saying he had them," said Lisa Merrill, a spokeswoman for the team. "He said the boys needed to earn them."

Merrill called the uniform manufacturer and has recently learned that the coach filed the order but never paid for it.

Police do not know where the 40-year-old man is, and said his two known phone numbers have been disconnected.

Hobert police expect prosecutors to file 12 counts of felony theft against the man Wednesday afternoon.

"The kids are pretty much out of a season now," Grissom said. "This isn't a real rich community. The parents are out eight or nine-hundred bucks."

Merril said the coach presented the travel team with false credentials that he was a pitching coach and a recruiter last Spring and said he had big plans for the team.

Police said the man applied to coach at a high school team in the area, but the coach said he resume was "too good to be true" and realized it was falsified.

"He ripped these kids hearts out. They are 11 years old," Merrill said.

Police do not know of the man's whereabouts, but had information that he fled back to the Elgin area, Grissom said.

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