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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, May 2, 2005

$35,000 paid back to kids' soccer league

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

Restitution totaling $35,000 has been paid to a local soccer organization by the parents of a woman accused of embezzling from the youth league, the woman and a league official said.

Tamila Alcoran

Tamila Alcoran said last week that her parents wrote the American Youth Soccer Organization a $35,000 check on April 21, a day after she was arrested. The organization's Hawai'i director confirmed receiving the check.

Alcoran, who was released pending investigation after her arrest, faces accusations of first-degree theft, a Class B felony that carries up to 10 years in jail. She has not been charged, and the police investigation continues.

"I made one of the worst mistakes of my life and I have to live day by day and make amends slowly, any way I can," said Alcoran, 37, an administrative assistant at her family's insulation business in Kane'ohe. "Soccer was my life and now I ruined that for myself and I have to learn from that."

Police allege she embezzled about $40,000 from the organization while serving as commissioner and also as treasurer for the league's Kane'ohe region.

Alcoran declined further comment. Despite the restitution, AYSO is still pursuing charges, police said. Investigators are currently attempting to subpoena Alcoran's personal and business bank records.

"We're still trying to see where the money went," said Honolulu Police Department Lt. John McCarthy.

An AYSO official, one of her former coaches and the athletic director of a high school where Alcoran coached for the past two years, describe a dedicated, affable volunteer who cared about the game and her players. In addition to coaching, Alcoran showed her commitment to the league by serving as the Kane'ohe region's volunteer commissioner. Last year, she became the region's treasurer.

League officials discovered irregularities with a checking account last month and went to the police after confronting Alcoran.

"We're kind of real surprised about the situation. It doesn't jive with the Tami I know," said Castle High School girls' soccer coach Mark Kane, who coached Alcoran. Alcoran, an All-State soccer player, graduated from Castle in 1985. "If there is something that's not compatible with the person, or your view of the person, you always want to find out the rest of the story."

AYSO Section Seven (Hawai'i) director Mark Stewart said AYSO trusted Alcoran "implicitly" for more than 15 years and that the organization and its board were caught completely unaware.

"She is, I think, deep down a really good person," he said. "She found herself in a situation where she made a really bad choice and she didn't own up to it. If you do steal from nonprofit organizations there will be consequences. We felt that it was important that people realize that bad things can happen in good organizations."

Richard Haru, athletic director at Castle High School, where Alcoran coached junior varsity girls' soccer the past two years, said he never had problems with her.

"She was well liked by the student-athletes and by her peers and by fellow coaches," he said. "She had a nurturing disposition, which is important when dealing with JV teams, girls' or boys'. She had knowledge of the game and those are all attributes that contribute to her doing a good job as a coach."

Stewart said the organization first learned in March that something was wrong with the Kane'ohe region's account because checks bounced. Officials then inquired and learned the account was negative $3,000. Stewart said AYSO officials confronted Alcoran during the third week in March about $12,000 that was missing, asking if she had taken it and any more.

"She said that was it and that she would pay us back and she admitted to it," Stewart said. "We asked if there was anything else we would find when we audited the books, and she said in tears that we wouldn't.

"We gave her the one chance, we did the audit, and once we found evidence of more money (missing) we turned it over to police."

He said that Alcoran wrote checks from the Kane'ohe region's account to purchase cashier's checks from another bank, which she then deposited into her personal account.

Stewart said the Kane'ohe region, which includes 1,000 of the estimated 25,000 children registered with AYSO in Hawai'i, is fiscally sound and ready for the upcoming season.

AYSO collects a registration fee each season, ranging from $55 to $65 per player. The money covers players' uniforms, insurance, field maintenance, organizational fees and referee training.

Stewart said after news of the theft broke, AYSO received numerous offers for monetary or other donations. He said the region politely turned down the offers, opting to rebuild on its own.

"They will have a great season and there won't be any problems," he said.

Advertiser staff writer Leila Wai contributed to this report. Reach Peter Boylan at pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8110.