SHICKSHINNY -- The president of a junior football league in Luzerne County is in the county jail tonight, charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the league and its young players.
Mary Kramer of Shickshinny is locked up at the Luzerne County prison on charges after state police say she stole more than $15,000 from the Northwest Area Junior Football Program.
State police arrested Kramer after she admitted she wrote checks out to herself from the league's uniform account.
Two of the coaches say the league was changing its name from the Northwest Jets to the Northwest Junior Rangers and money in that account was going to pay for new uniforms.
Now, that money is all gone.
“So the uniforms were supposed to be bought, paid for, ordered and here by June and they were never ordered,” said coach Thomas Swiatek.
According to state police, the league treasurer came to them on May 24 saying her name was forged on two checks.
Kramer later told police she had begun having money problems and started taking money from the both the league's general fund and uniform fund.
In total, she forged 13 checks and also admitted to making numerous ATM withdrawals from the general fund since July of last year.
Many of the youth here in Shickshinny say Kramer essentially stole from children.
“I do feel like it is because in our area football is such a big involvement in all of our community,” said Emily Lencoski.
“My little brother used to play and several of my friends little brothers used to play on that team,” said Elora Lencoski. “It's very upsetting, this is a really big community, we're all very close here. It's sad that someone would do something like that.”
The league is part of the Wyoming Valley Football Conference and plays its home games at Northwest High School. If the league can't raise money to buy new uniforms, the coaches say there may not be a season this fall.
“I haven't told my son anything yet. We're hoping that we don't have to tell him that there's no football,” said coach Jared Moss.
The coaches we spoke to say they can't even use the old uniforms with the Jets' name because those uniforms were sold to raise money for the new ones.