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Man accused of stealing from youth soccer group

A Spokane man has been accused of embezzling money from the Inland Empire Youth Soccer Association and nearly bankrupting the organization.

Spokane police say 43-year-old Shawn Meese stole $140,000 from the group over a year and a half. Meese allegedly use his position as a board member with the organization to funnel money from its accounts to his own.

Investigators believe he then used the money to go on a spending spree, buying boats, cars, jewelry and guns.

“There were several large purchases,” said Detective Kirk Kimberly.

This week, fraud unit investigators requested the prosecutor’s office charge Meese with one count of first-degree theft and 14 counts of money laundering, Sgt. Lydia Taylor said in a news release. The prosecutor’s office is expected to file charges Friday.

Starting about June 2011, employees began noticing discrepancies in financial statements, Taylor said. Upon investigating, they discovered funds had been funneled from two different soccer association bank accounts into personal bank accounts allegedly belonging to Shawn Meese.

Association employees found that direct transfers from one of the association accounts were made into Meese’s personal bank accounts, Taylor said. Investigators also believe he wrote checks to himself and may have paid off personal credit card debt with the association’s money.

Meese allegedly used his position to convince the association to switch financial institutions, allowing him to transfer funds into his own accounts more easily.

Detectives seized funds from Meese’s personal accounts, account statements and other financial information, and also searched his residence, vehicles and other property that detectives believe he used the stolen money to pay for.

They also seized two vehicles, a GMC Yukon and a Chevrolet Equinox, and found receipts for firearms and jewelry that were paid for through his “tainted” bank account, Taylor said.

The association reportedly took out a loan to continue operating after the theft nearly wiped out their funding.

“They went to extreme measures to remain solvent and be there for the children of Spokane that play soccer,” Kimberly said. “They’re trying to recover as best they can from this.”