PASSAIC, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A longtime recreation director has been charged with extorting sports teams who wanted to join city leagues, the Passaic County prosecutor’s office said.
Eriberto Carrero, 54, was arrested Friday and charged with extortion, theft and official misconduct.
Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said Carrero wielded his position as the director of Passaic’s recreation department over a nine-year period to demand additional unauthorized money from teams that wanted to join city leagues, and from parents of children seeking to participate on the city’s soccer team.
Passaic County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul De Groot said Carrero would ask for extra fees on the side for children to play.
“He was not going by the accepted authorized fee schedule that the city ordinance has passed,” De Groot told 1010 WINS. “They have accepted amounts they collect from the parents. They have accepted amounts that they collect from the officials of the various leagues, and he was deviating from those fees.”
The investigation was a joint effort between the City of Passaic and the prosecutor’s office. De Groot lauded the city’s work.
“Passaic did their job. They reviewed the matter very closely internally for a short period of time and then they referred it on to us,” he said. “So, the City of Passaic was cooperating in the investigation from the very beginning.”
Parents in Passaic told CBS 2’s Matt Kozar they had a hard time believing the accusations against Carrero.
Theresa Jackson said her kids played for city teams and even worked for the rec center during the summers.
“The kids loved him. He did good with the sports. He ran a good program to me,” Jackson said.
Luis Chevalier, a Little Leaguer playing at Pulaski Park in Passaic, said Carrero coached his travel team.
“He brought us all the way to state championships, so he was a really good coach,” Chevalier said.
Juan Hernandez played for city soccer teams and said it’s a shame Carrero is accused of taking advantage of leagues that mean so much to inner city kids.
“That’s really nuts,” Hernandez said. “It (was) fun. I just cared about playing for a team.”
If convicted, Carrero faces up to 25 years in prison, 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis reported.
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