Softball coach accused of embezzling $19,000+

(Bristol Police Department photo)

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — An investigation into the finances of the Mt. Hope High School Booster Club led to the arrest of the organization’s former president on an embezzlement charge.

Steven Zina, 54, of Bristol, is accused of embezzling $19,588 from the club for personal use between Feb. 2012 to June 2014. In addition to being the club’s president, he was also the varsity girls’ softball coach at the school.

Police received a complaint from the Bristol-Warren Regional School District on Aug. 7 after a $500 scholarship check bounced. Detectives launched an investigation and found that someone had deducted $14,500 in cash from Citizens Bank ATMs and made bill payments to the Rhode Island DMV, National Grid, Full Channel Television, and Sprint, as well as numerous charges at area gas stations.

Detectives obtained surveillance videos from the ATM cash withdrawals, and Zina was identified as the suspect.

Bristol police called Zina to the station on Aug. 20 for questioning, during which he admitted to withdrawing cash from the booster club to pay for personal expenses. He said he was the only person who had access to the club’s finances, and during meetings the monthly balances given didn’t reflect what was actually in the organization’s bank account.

A warrant was put out for Zina’s arrest on Aug. 21 and he turned himself in the following day. He was arraigned on one count of felony embezzlement.

A spokesperson for the school said Zina will not be re-appointed as a coach in the district, but declined to comment on the reason, citing personnel issues.

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