Founders of failed youth baseball league charged with multiple counts of theft

Leaders of a failed youth baseball league that collapsed in 2013 amid accusations of financial mismanagement face multiple charges of theft and unlawful issuance of bad checks, according to charging papers filed Wednesday by Pierce County prosecutors.

Prosecutors charged Ryan Rhoads, 41, and Eric Jacobs, 42, with two counts of second-degree theft; three counts of writing bad checks; one count of attempted second-degree theft; and one count of third-degree theft.

Rhoads said he didn’t want to comment when reached by The News Tribune. He said he was not aware of the charges and referred questions to his attorney. Jacobs did not respond to a phone message.

Charging papers do not list the total tally of money victims allegedly lost to Rhoads and Jacobs. The charge of second-degree theft refers to assets of more than $750, but not greater than $5,000.

Charging papers state that Rhoads and Jacobs wrote bad checks in excess of $23,000.

The two founded the Pioneer Pony Baseball League in 2011, and dabbled in other investment ventures that attracted youth sports parents. Many parents and investors reported they were swindled or deceived.

The News Tribune published an account of the Pioneer League’s demise in April.

“Unfortunately, Pioneer Pony Baseball was a long con,” Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said. “Many members of our community contributed money so that children could enjoy and learn from our national pastime. Their hopes and trust were exploited.”

The league’s bank account closed in October 2012, with a negative balance of $3,192. Court records state Rhoads and Jacobs continued to run the league for another year without a bank account, and used a check-cashing business to cash multiple payments from parents.

Records also state Rhoads tried to cash additional checks on the baseball league account eight months after the account closed.

Documents filed by deputy prosecutor Jennifer Hernandez include a summons requiring Rhoads and Jacobs to appear for arraignment on July 16.

Rhoads faces a separate charge of second-degree theft filed in 2013, tied to an unrelated incident involving a bad check written for repairs to his Land Rover.

Charging documents state Rhoads and Jacobs collected fees from parents for baseball uniforms – $311 apiece – that were never provided. Records examined by The News Tribune include statements from unhappy investors who say they lost more than $100,000 to Rhoads and Jacobs.

Charging documents also note Rhoads has been listed as a respondent in 31 civil cases in Pierce, King and Kitsap counties, and currently owes more than $768,000 in judgments.

Jacobs is listed as a co-respondent in three of the cases, which resulted in excess of $600,000 in judgments.