With two of the presidents of the Healdsburg Youth Soccer League accused of embezzlement in the past three years, City Hall has stepped in to launch a new league through its Parks and Recreation department.
City officials said they want to ensure the sport continues to be offered to children in Healdsburg.
“Kids are the ones that suffer if you don’t have a program. That’s why the recreation department is taking it on,” City Manager Marjie Pettus said Friday.
She said the city has the support of the Youth Soccer League for “taking the program over.”
“It’s not like we’re snatching (it) out from under them,” Pettus said.
On Thursday, the day after soccer league president Mitzi Giron was arrested on suspicion of stealing more than $30,000 from the organization, the city announced it would offer recreational youth soccer leagues for boys and girls aged 4 to 10.
Sign-ups begin Monday with practices in August and games beginning in September.
“Once we got wind of what was going on we felt we needed to provide that service to our community. It looked like they weren’t able to do it,” Assistant City Manager David Mickaelian said Friday.
Giron, 30, is suspected of taking the money over an 18-month period. Healdsburg police say they believe she began withdrawing money from the league bank account for personal reasons, using an account debit card, beginning in July 2011.
That was one month before previous league president Kyle Hoffman was sentenced to nine months in jail for stealing $58,000 from the league.
The latest arrest stunned members of the community, not only because it involved another league president in such a short period of time, but because Giron was considered particularly devoted to soccer and coaching.
She played in the Healdsburg Youth Soccer League as a child and was active for years as a mentor, including a stint several years ago as coach of the high school girls junior varsity team.