Two charged in swindling more than $50,000 from Hamel Athletic Club

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Two men were charged in a scheme that defrauded the Hamel Athletic Club out of more than $50,000, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.

Edward Roy Leuthner, 49, of Corcoran and Eric Benjamin Vargas, 48, of Andover were each charged with a single count of theft by swindle. The men have their first court appearance on March 16.

According to the criminal complaints, Leuthner who was the president of the Hamel Athletic Club, was added to the athletic club’s banking accounts in February 2016. The athletic club supports the little league baseball program in Hamel. Vargas runs a sports apparel company, Xtreme Custom Apparel. The swindle began in early February 2016 when Leuthner approached Vargas and convinced him to send inflated invoices to the athletic club when they purchased jerseys and hats and then refund the difference in cash to Leuthner. Over time, Vargas also sent invoices for items the shop did not even sell, such as baseballs.

Leuthner began his thefts in October 2015 when he wrote a reimbursement check to himself for $5,800 and indicated it was from the purchase of a Bobcat UTV from his mother. However, his mother told police she never owned a Bobcat and never received any money from her son, the complaint states. He also paid for a Visa gift card with $504 of athletic club money.

The scheme was uncovered by the treasurer of the Hamel Athletic Club in July when she asked Xtreme Custom Apparel to send her copies of several invoices, according to the complaint. When she received them, she realized the numbers did not match what had been paid from the club’s bank account.

Leuthner Criminal Complaint (PDF)

Vargas Criminal Complaint (PDF)