Men accused of swindling athletic club

Two men are accused of defrauding the Hamel Athletic Club out of more than $50,000, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced.

Edward Roy Leuthner, 49, of Corcoran and Eric Benjamin Vargas, 48, of Andover were each charged with a single count of theft by swindle. The men have their first court appearance on March 16.

According to the criminal complaints, Leuthner, who was the president of the Hamel Athletic Club, was added to the athletic club’s banking accounts in February 2016. The athletic club supports the little league baseball program in Hamel. Vargas runs a sports apparel company, Xtreme Custom Apparel.

The swindle allegedly began in early February 2016 when Leuthner approached Vargas and convinced him to send inflated invoices to the athletic club when they purchased jerseys and hats and then refund the difference in cash to Leuthner, according to the complaint.

Over time, Vargas also allegedly sent invoices for items the shop did not even sell, such as baseballs.

The complaint alleges that Leuthner began his thefts in October 2015 when he wrote a reimbursement check to himself for $5,800 and indicated it was from the purchase of a Bobcat UTV from his mother. However, his mother told police she never owned a Bobcat and never received any money from her son, the complaint states. He also allegedly paid for a Visa gift card with $504 of athletic club money.

The scheme was uncovered by the treasurer of the Hamel Athletic Club in July when she asked Xtreme Custom Apparel to send her copies of several invoices, according to the complaint. When she received them, she realized the numbers did not match what had been paid from the club’s bank account.

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