Pittsburgh man convicted of stealing $162,000 from youth baseball league
An Allegheny County jury Thursday convicted a Squirrel Hill man on theft-related charges for stealing $162,000 from the 14th Ward youth baseball league in Pittsburgh's East End.
Jeffrey Rosenthal, 64, was convicted in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court on charges of theft, forgery and receiving stolen property. He was executive director of 14th Ward.
Jurors also convicted him of stealing $85,000 from the Taylor Allderdice Alumni Association.
Sentencing is Jan. 3 in front of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kevin Sasinoski. Rosenthal was convicted of 19 charges, 16 of which are felonies.
Rosenthal faces a sentence that could range from probation to prison time, along with possible restitution. He remains free on bond.
The trial began Sept. 25, and jurors deliberated a full day Wednesday before returning Thursday morning to convict Rosenthal.
An investigation began in 2015 when Taylor Allderdice High School's parent-teacher organization prepared to take over the alumni association. The new treasurer noticed checks written from the alumni association to the 14th Ward Baseball Association and from the baseball association to Rosenthal, investigators said.
According to an affidavit, Rosenthal wrote 745 checks to himself totaling $288,000 between September 2009 and October 2015. When interviewed by investigators, he claimed the money was used to fund trophies, T-shirts, equipment and a new roof for the 14th Ward's concession stand, authorities said. He said he wrote the checks to reimburse himself for purchases he made for the league, according to a criminal complaint.
Rosenthal did not use his own money to make purchases for those groups, the criminal complaint states. He is accused of using the money to pay credit card companies, BMW Financial and other businesses.
Rosenthal is a 1971 graduate of Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill and served as president of the Taylor Allderdice Alumni Association. He declined to comment leading up to the trial and has been free on bond.
When criminal charges surfaced against Rosenthal, parents pulled together to keep the storied league afloat.
Gregory Allen, a coach and parent of two sons in the league, took over as chair after the scandal. He declined comment on behalf of 14th Ward on Thursday.
Rosenthal was once so beloved in the community that a 14th Ward baseball field was named after him. The field in Regent Square no longer bears his name.
His lawyer, Kevin Abramovitz, argued during trial that Rosenthal was merely an unorganized bookkeeper. He did not return a phone call for comment.
The 14th Ward league is described on its Facebook page as a “nonprofit youth baseball league run by community volunteers in Pittsburgh's East End.”
Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.