'Soccer mom' accused of embezzling $60,000 from Amelia Island Youth Soccer League

Ronee Malama arrested in Nassau County on charge of grand theft

Author: Hailey Winslow, General assignment reporter, hwinslow@wjxt.com
Dawn Brooks, Web editor
Published On: Dec 02 2013 10:45:51 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 03 2013 06:55:23 AM EST
soccer mom
FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. -

Detectives say a soccer mom has been arrested after stealing at least $60,000 from youth soccer league.

"Obviously that money would have enhanced their experiences and their playing soccer, bought more equipment that they're going to have to find other means of purchasing," said Fernandina Beach Police Captain Jim Norman.

Fernandina Beach police arrested Ronee Malama on grand theft earlier this year when she worked for the Nassau County Health Department.

Investigators learned Malama is also the registrar for the Amelia Island Youth Soccer League.

"After she was terminated, her employers were removing items from her desk and they found three checks belonging to the Amelia Island Youth Soccer League," said Norman.

Detectives did some digging and found out money was missing from more than 500 kids' soccer accounts.

"Of the $83,000, we were able to prove that $60,000 was directly deposited into her (Malama's) account and never made it into the Amelia Island Youth Soccer League's account," Norman said.

Norman says Malama spent most of the money so it can't be recovered.

"She was collecting the money, registering the children and then was supposed to be depositing or giving the money to the treasurer, and the money just never made it," Norman said.

After weeks of gathering evidence, officers arrested Malama.

"I definitely want to give some credit to Detective Tina Smith. She spent hundreds of hours, she went through thousands of pages of financial documents, subpoena records," said Norman. "She did just an outstanding job putting this all together, to be able to document $60,000 -- $150 at a time -- took a lot of work on her behalf."

The league is doing what it can to make sure the kids' soccer season doesn't suffer. In the meantime, Norman has a message for the public:

"Whenever you pay for something, get a receipt, have that proof that you paid for something."