Shocking Case of Bank Fraud Shows Need for Reforms

By Vijay Daundkar

Dave Donato was the treasurer of Hernando Youth Leagues from 1998 until last month and treasurer or president of Leopard Quarterback Club of Brooksville for most of the last decade. Donato, 58, is known for bank fraud now. According to a plea agreement he entered last week with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa, he cheated CenterStateBank out of $143,000.

A complaint was launched against Donato, a senior vice president at CenterState for taking Fraud (2)out loans in the name of Hernando Youth Leagues from 2011. Donato forged the names of other officers in order to execute his plans and use the loan proceedings to set up accounts from which he paid his personal credit card bills and mortgage payments.

He was the treasurer of the league for almost 17 years and knew every minute detail about the finances of the organization. HYL did its banking at CenterStateBank where Donato was also working as a senior vice president but that’s not all. They did it at a branch where he was the top dog.

Though the court files don’t indicate that he took money from HYL, he damaged the reputation of the organization and lost his job with CenterState. According to the plea agreement, Donato will have to repay the bank and federal prosecutors will argue for leniency in court but haven’t assured him that he will not go to prison.

That’s just a beginning. The league has to show the sponsors and dues-paying parents that it has looked into the fraud and taken steps. They might even consider term limits for officers to ensure this kind of fraud doesn’t happen again in future.

Though the origins of HYL were small and in a small town, it’s not the case any more. The league amassed a total of $377,000 in revenue in 2013 and draws around 1,500 players every year from all over the country.

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