ST PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - A local little league is nearly $40,000 in debt after an online company withheld their money.
Two weeks into the season, the Northeast Little League of St. Petersburg cannot access the registration fees parents paid online during the summer.
"We've received absolutely $0 in funds from all the parents that have paid the money for their kids to play baseball," said David Vann, President of the Northeast Little League. "We have local people who have printed our shirts that we owe money."
The team also uses registration money to pay property taxes and maintenance at their field on 45th Avenue North. Beginning in July, parents were told to pay their registration fees through an online service called Jevin, which the team has used since 2012.
Each time a parent registers, the company is supposed to transfer the money into the league account.
FOX 13 contacted Jevin and learned several parents, both locally and across the country, were charged twice during online registration.
After many of those parents contacted their banks about the charge, Jevin officials said it triggered a fraud investigation with Merchant Bank, who handles Jevin's money.
Jevin officials claim until the investigation ends, they cannot turn over funds.
"It's hard to explain to a 13-year-old who's told to do the right thing, always tell the truth,
and yet, I have to tell him that his little league was just robbed, basically," said parent Kelly Ewert.
Jevin officials could not give a time frame for when the money will be turned over to the teams. The Little League contacted St. Petersburg police, who have talked to Jevin officials. At this time, no crime has been committed, so no charges have been filed.
Jevin is also facing scrutiny from a youth football league in Utah, where about $45,000 in registration fees have also been withheld due to the banking issue, according to local affiliate FOX 13 Now.
Northeast Little League officials are concerned the money they have available will only support the team through Thanksgiving. They have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help keep the season going.
"All the uniforms have been distributed. We're playing baseball as if we have money, and we will continue to provide a season for the kids and the community," said Vann.