By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Gillette mother and former Gillette Little League board member is “disgusted” with the 30-day jail sentence recommended for the league’s former treasurer after he was caught stealing almost $30,000 from the organization.
Melissa Blankenship told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that she thinks Rory Geis should serve prison time or be forced to work off his debt in public through community service.
“As soon as we figured out what was going on, we turned it in,” Blankenship said, noting she was speaking as an individual, not as a board member. “We were all really angry, because we trusted him. We were friends.”
Geis pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft as part of a plea agreement on June 16. A second felony theft count was dismissed. The state recommended a suspended sentence of four to six years in prison with five years of supervised probation and a 30-day jail sentence.
The plea agreement also required Geis to pay $2,300.75 in restitution to the Gillette Little League.
In 2020, Geis was found to have stolen nearly $30,000 from the league between 2019 and 2020.
According to court documents, Troy Stevens, the league’s president called local police in June 2020 after discovering suspicious transactions on the organization’s bank account.
At the time, four board members had credit or debit cards tied to the account which were meant to be used for official Little League business and not personal use.
Blankenship said she felt disgusted that Geis would put himself in a situation where he not only ruined his reputation in the community, he put his family through such a stressful situation, as well.
“I feel like the amount of money that was taken, that wasn’t an accident. It was done very decisively, like he had a plan,” she said. “I feel like giving somebody a 30-day sentence, it definitely isn’t teaching them anything. When you take from a nonprofit organization that’s pretty much funded itself for 50 years, you take money from 800 children.”
She added that if Geis was in need of money, the league’s board would have found ways to help him out, either through fundraising or their own personal revenue streams.
Blankenship said Geis’ theft destroyed a little bit of her faith in humanity, but she also noted it set a bad example for a group of children learning integrity, teamwork and a sense of belonging.
However, she added the team’s new treasurer has been great to work with and new checks and balances have been adopted to keep theft from happening again.
“I think, despite the situation, things have turned out great,” Blankenship said. “But I think he should have to work down at the ballfields, keeping score and taking out the trash at night or putting dirt down, all things the board members do on a daily basis. I think that would teach him a better lesson than 30 days in jail.”
Gillette Little League officials declined to comment for this story, citing ongoing litigation.