The ex-president of the Warner Robins American Little League was sentenced Friday to 60 to 90 days in a probation detention center for using the nonprofit’s credit card for personal purchases.
Joseph Stella, 40, of Warner Robins, pleaded guilty to four counts of identity fraud and agreed to pay $16,489 in restitution to WRALL within seven days. Charges of three counts of theft by taking were dismissed.
“I seriously apologize to the league, to this courtroom and to my family for all the hurt that I’ve caused during my actions,” Stella said before a full courtroom in Houston County Superior Court.
The negotiated plea agreement includes more than 19-years on probation with early termination after eight years and first-offender status. Stella will have no felony record if he completes the terms of his sentence successfully under the state’s first-offender program.
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Prosecutor Ryan English had sought at least three years of incarceration, while Stella’s attorney Lars Anderson sought no jail time.
Judge Katherine K. Lumsden told Stella that he probably didn’t wake up one more morning to betray himself and others by misusing the nonprofit’s credit card.
“Those are choices, make no mistake, and choices have consequences,” Lumsden told him.
Current and former WRALL board members told the judge that Stella’s actions resulted in the loss of trust, which resulted in declines in player participation and sponsorship.
“This was not a victimless crime and it will take a long time to recover,” said Roman Jones, district administrator of the Georgia District Five Little League, who served as WRALL president from 2007-2008.
Stella was convicted of signing other people’s names when he used the nonprofit’s credit card for personal purchases on four separate occasions in 2014 and 2015.