East Syracuse-Minoa Little League facing big questions

When most people think of little league they're probably either thinking about their young children getting together to play baseball or a scene from the movie "The Bad News Bears". The discussions at recent meetings of the East Syracuse-Minoa Little League board have probably been more like something from an episode of "Law and Order".

Current and former board members are asking questions about how the league is run and specifically about the past conduct of two board members.

Little League President Leanne LeGro pleaded guilty in 2005 to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, performed 100 hours of community service and re-paid $12,000 to settle felony charges that she stole from the Fayetteville Elementary Home School Association - something she didn't tell the board or parents when she took an active role in ES-M Little League.

Board member Pat Szlamczynski supported Leanne LeGro in the election for Board President last fall and was shocked when LeGro's past came to light.

"Now I feel like I have egg on my face that I backed somebody that has a criminal history," said Szlamczynski. "Whether it was her or Joe Smith, I feel if you've made that kind of mistake it should preclude you from holding public office."

Ralph Santillo, who serves as Treasurer for ES-M Little League, says nothing came up on LeGro's background check and that she and her family have been an asset to the league. Santillo says LeGro has helped to improve the board's organization and he continues to support her even after learning about her past legal troubles.

"The board remains fully committed to what she's done and she's done a really great job," said Santillo

Much of the attention regarding LeGro's previous issues with the legal system was brought to the Little League Board by former member Jeffrey Mulcahy. Mulcahy was removed from the board after he was arrested and charged with felony identity theft in Madison County. On Wednesday Mulcahy said he's innocent and expects to be exonerated.

Mulcahy and Szlamczynski say they are concerned about the league finances and haven't been able to find out where all the money is going. Mulcahy said he plans to file a formal complaint with Town of Manlius Police on Thursday and will ask them to investigate the board's finances.

ES-M Little League Treasurer Ralph Santillo says the books are open to anyone who wants to see them and he brings them to every meeting. Santillo allowed to see how he tracks every expense and that he keeps a carbon copy of every check written from the league's account as well as a written record of what the money was used for. Santillo said he is confident his record keeping will speak for itself.

Both Santillo and Mulcahy were unsure if everyone on ES-M's Little League Board had been subjected to a background check every year. Dan Cavallo who is the District Administrator for New York Little League District 8 thought the league might want to clarify their system for checks. When asked if LeGro's past legal issues should have precluded her from serving in a leadership role, Cavallo said "they certainly don't bode well within the law."

In a phone interview Wednesday night, Leanne LeGro said she didn't have any plans to step down as Little League Board President. LeGro added "I have no qualms with anything I have been involved in since I started with this league." When asked why she didn't reveal her past to the little league board and members when she took an active role, LeGro said she had no comment.