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Somebody Threw a Screwball

The Southwest Denver Little League should have made money with its bingo fundraisers. So why is $250,000 missing?

"I felt we couldn't prove anything," recalls Neal Dunning, the league's lawyer. "I think we could prove that money was missing. We just couldn't show who took it. It was one of those situations where you know that something is wrong, something is amiss--you just aren't sure what."

The case of Mike Sedillos v. Southwest Denver Little League was settled a few weeks ago. For all intents and purposes, Sedillos won. As part of the agreement, the Little League agreed to pay him $22,000 to cover the expenses for running the league that he took out of his own pocket. Although the league's insurance will cover some of the costs, Duff says that Southwest Denver Little League will have to come up with about $8,200 more in cash.

The league also agreed to drop its claims against Sedillos regarding any missing bingo money. Finally, the two sides agreed never to speak badly of each other in public.

Cary Romero, the former president of Southwest Denver Little League, says that for a time, the dispute split the baseball organization, with parents choosing sides based on who they believed more. He estimates that about half a dozen active parents simply quit over the quarrel.

Still, as the story of the missing money fades, there seems to be a happy ending for most of the people involved. After he left Southwest Denver Little League, Sedillos was, in effect, promoted. He now administers all of Colorado's Division 5 Little League, a geographic area that spreads south along the foothills from Denver to Colorado Springs. Neither Sedillos, nor any member of his family, was ever charged with any crime.

The really good news, though, is that, unlike just a couple of years back, when it was losing as much as $2,000 a month on its bingo games, Southwest Denver Little League is actually showing a profit. "Now we're making $1,000 a week from bingo," says Duff. "And that's net."

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