Courtesy of the Orange County Register:
Embattled Pop Warner official honored
By JOHN McDONALD
The Orange County Register
An Orange County Pop Warner official is being honored as the national organization's Southwest Regional Volunteer of the Year while facing a charge that he stole $24,000 from the organization.
Robert T. Espinoza is supposed to go to Orlando to be honored May 26. The trip is on unless he pleads guilty when he goes to court May 19, said Steven Sherman, president of Pop Warner's Orange Empire Conference.
Authorities say the theft occurred in 2002, when Espinoza was president of the Fullerton league. The criminal charge was filed in 2004.
Espinoza contends he used his own money for league expenses and then reimbursed himself, said Mark Bruce, an Orange County deputy public defender.
The conference oversees 26 football leagues. Espinoza, 45, is a deputy commissioner.
Conference officials voted Wednesday to spend $2,000 for Espinoza's trip to Florida to receive the honor.
"I think it's a joke that he's allowed to continue to serve after we made them aware that he is a thief," said Robert Renfro, a former Fullerton league official and vocal critic of Espinoza's.
Orange County Deputy District Attorney George Turner said Espinoza will be given one more chance to plea bargain next week, or face a trial beginning June 5.
"There are a lot of people who want him off the board and a lot who want him to stay," Sherman said. "I'd say more want him to stay."
He said Espinoza was named volunteer of the year because of his hard work and long hours on behalf of the organization. The region covers five states.
Sherman said Espinoza now works setting schedules for the leagues and enforcing rules for coaches.
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The sheer volume of irony with this story, this thief, and this Pop Warner league and its governing conference is head scratchingly amazing.
It reminds me of a story about a poacher who died. He killed elephants for their tusks. One night this guy decided to break into a wildlife refuge's animal hospital area to kill the sick elephant that had been brought in the day before figuring that it would be an easy way to get a chunk of change. The elephant's problem was apparently constipation, and the medicine they gave the old fellow decided to take effect about this time. The poacher was trying to sneak up behind the elephant, trying to get close enough to pop it with a tranquilizer without making too much noise. As he got just behind the elephant, out gushed about two weeks worth of... well... crap.
The poacher was completely buried and smothered to death.
Nigeria and China both sentence thieves to death. It's it ironic that in the land of Pop Warner, thieves are honored. Proving once again, there is no honor among thieves.
Sadly, Fullerton Pop Warner continues their association with this thief as their current Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=318557014442
clearly indicates Bob Espinoza as the organization's "friend."
With "friends" like these, who needs enemies?