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updated: 4/26/2012 7:57 AM

Coach charged with stealing from youth baseball team

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A South Elgin man who is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a northwest Indiana youth baseball team has been charged, according to police.

Jeffrey Halter, 40, was the coach of the team, but when it came time to play the first game of the year parents were told the game was canceled and he had skipped town. They later learned he never ordered uniforms for the team and never paid dues for any tournaments the team thought they were scheduled to play in, authorities said.

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Halter was charged with 10 counts of felony theft Wednesday, Hobart police told ABC 7.

The 11-year-old players on the Deep River Devils, based in Hobart, expected to play around 60 games this season after Halter took over as a coach in the fall, according to Lisa Merrill, whose son is on the team.

Parents paid $675 per player to Halter to schedule the games and buy the uniforms. Halter was in control of another $1,000 that was collected during a Super Bowl fundraiser for the team, Merrill said.

The players were devastated when they learned that their season had been canceled last week, but Merrill said there has been an outpouring of support for the team, including an offer of free uniforms and an invitation to join the Little League program.

"(The players) are thrilled," she said. "We all went as a group yesterday and signed up for Little League. They let us come in last minute."

The Sports Station in Tinley Park heard about the team's plight this week and has offered to outfit the players for free.

Merrill said the team has gotten so many calls from organizations hoping to help out that there was team meeting Wednesday night to sort out the situation.

"We are getting so many people that we don't want seven different people to say we will give you uniforms and then we have no helmets or something like that," she said.

Police said Halter duped the team with a false resume, which landed him the job.

Although the team is still working out a travel schedule, the boys are happy to be playing baseball and will kick off the Little League season in two weeks.

Merrill said a local car dealership is covering the cost for the league.

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