Baseball coach does not face charges after parents claim he stole money

Police find no wrongdoing

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Jonesboro police will not file criminal charges against a youth baseball coach.

Back in June, a few parents filed a police report claiming Arkansas Stealth coach Derek Lee stole money from the team.

Jonesboro police say the report is not a criminal matter, but rather a civil one between the parents and coach.

According to the report, assistant coach David Phillips told police he believed Lee stole almost $20,000 from the team.

Phillips told police Lee set up an account for the team's funds, which held fees from parents for sign up, and monies raised from fundraisers.

Phillips told police he and a few other parents started to get concerned about the money when one check for a major tournament entry fee returned because of insufficient funds.

Police talked with two additional parents who said their concerns included being pulled out of a tournament days before the start, bad checks being written, and money raised for nationals.

Following the complaints, police obtained a search warrant for the team's bank records.

They also interviewed Lee about the claims.

Lee told police he was the only person in charge of the team's account and he had one checking account he used for both the team and his personal things, but he also put personal money in there as well.

The report states police asked Lee about pullovers that some parents claim they never received.

Lee responded saying some parents paid for their pullovers but not the player pullovers.

Lee told police the team funds covered two full sets of uniforms, pullovers, hats and belts, and tournament fees.

He said the team usually gets bat bags and other items; however, they could not this year because many parents did not fully pay.

Police also asked Lee about the check that bounced and he said it was due to several parents not paying their dues all at once.

Lee said since some parents did not pay their dues they did not have money in the account to cover the merchandise.

He also told police some parents kept saying they would pay at practice but then claimed they forgot when it was time to pay.

Lee told police he constantly asked some parents to pay their dues and they never did.

During the interview, police also asked why Lee canceled tournaments at the last minute.

Lee said Will Roark hosted a tournament with 12 teams but heavy rains destroyed one of the fields for the tournament.

Roark dropped the last four teams that entered the tournament because of the field.

Police confirmed the tournament issue with Roark.

Lee also told police there was never a team fundraiser held after they knew Arkansas Stealth was not going to nationals.

He said some parents held a crawfish boil as a fundraiser for nationals, but there was not a team fundraiser held after they pulled out.

In the report, Lee told police the issues started when he was going to let Phillips take over coaching for state.

Lee told police the boys started being mean towards one another and started calling each other names through a group text.

When Lee saw the texts he decided to take over coaching for state and when things got worse he decided to pull the team from state all together.

During the investigation, police found Lee did spend approximately $1,500 for personal use.

Lee told police that money covered travel expenses and hotels for out of town tournaments.

Police determined this is not a criminal matter and the case was closed.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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