SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

September 22, 2012

Former Pentucket youth sports treasurer flees U.S.

SALEM — The one-time treasurer of a youth football league, facing trial next month on charges he stole $80,000 from the organization as children played in old, worn uniforms and equipment, has taken a new job — in a Middle Eastern country that has no extradition treaty with the United States.

James Potenza, 55, the former treasurer of the Pentucket Youth Football League, is supposed to stand trial starting Oct. 10 on felony larceny charges. But he failed to appear for his final pre-trial conference on Tuesday, leading prosecutors to seek a warrant.

During a hearing yesterday in Salem Superior Court, his attorney, Michael Murphy, told a judge that Potenza is in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, performing what he described as “contract work.”

Murphy said Potenza “had trouble finding work” in the United States and was forced to take the job there, as he tries to earn money to pay restitution he intends to offer in the case.

But prosecutor Greg Friedholm said he was concerned that Potenza hadn’t appeared in court in months, and was now out of the country on the eve of trial. He asked Judge Garry Inge to issue a default warrant in the case.

Friedholm also said that Potenza’s former home in Groveland (which he’d put in his mother’s name because, he told officials, he had bad credit) had been sold on Aug. 28, eliminating one of his ties to the area as well as providing him with a possible source of funds.

Potenza had been living in Wakefield after he and his wife separated, while the case was pending.

Potenza was indicted last year on charges that he had obtained an unauthorized debit card that allowed him to make cash withdrawals from the league’s account.

Many of the withdrawals turned out to have been made on Cape Cod, where Potenza owned a summer home.

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