The Healdsburg Youth Soccer League is looking into financial transactions involving its longtime president, and the potential misappropriation of more than $35,000.
Healdsburg Police confirmed they have initiated an investigation to determine if there was a theft of league funds.
"It's a substantial amount," said acting Healdsburg Police Chief Kevin Young, declining to specify how much.
"X amount is alleged to have gone missing," he said. "We have to make sure part of this didn't go to legitimate expenses. We have to untangle all of that."
League officials said the inquiry focuses on former league President Kyle Hoffman, who wrote checks from the organization's bank account that did not appear bona fide.
"We found out he was writing himself some checks," said Aziz Zhari, the newly named league president.
Zhari said the checks Hoffman wrote had stated purposes that do not make sense.
One, for $3,400, was "for &‘taxes.' But we're a nonprofit organization. We don't pay taxes," Zhari said.
"He said he bought computers. We don't even have any computers for soccer," he said.
Zhari said there were other checks Hoffman wrote to himself, including almost $5,000 for "training coaches," and $2,400 for a "party for coaches" that was never held.
Reached at his Healdsburg home Wednesday, Hoffman declined to comment. "I have nothing to say," he replied when asked about the police investigation and his control of league funds.
Zhari said $35,000 to $40,000 is in question.
He said the money came from registration fees and donations to the league, which has approximately 300 boys and girls aged 18 and under, roughly half the 600 or so youths enrolled several years ago.
While soccer practice and games are just beginning for the recreation season, Zhari said the league's financial situation is precarious.
"We are going to struggle. I don't think we have enough money to buy balls and uniforms for the kids. It's been really frustrating," he said.
Lisa Wittke Schaffner, a Healdsburg City Council member who serves as the soccer league secretary, said she and other board members have had to use their own money to pay for such things as insurance and a phone alert system.
She said the checks that Hoffman cashed were supposed to have at least two signatures of league members, but the bank cashed them with just his.
"It was a collective fault, a lack of checks and balances, and people being too trusting," she said. "We never think about anyone taking money that benefits children."
Schaffner acknowledged that "as a board member, I take part of the blame, not making sure I was checking every month ... and knowing where we sat financially."
The funding debacle has taken by surprise many people who know Hoffman, 37. In addition to being soccer league president for about three years, he founded KJ Hoffman, described as a development consulting and commercial finance company.
He also works for a company that makes marketing videos for wineries, according to Schaffner.
"This is a big deal for Healdsburg. We pride ourselves in knowing people in a small town," she said. "My daughter baby-sat his children. The whole thing is kind of hard."
Zhari, a co-coaching coordinator who has been with the league several years, said he was asked to take over as president after Hoffman was dismissed by the league board on Aug. 1.