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A one-time Black Rock-Riverside Little League Football coach was charged Wednesday with grand larceny for allegedly pocketing about $2,500 in donations he collected for the organization, Buffalo police said.

Joseph Cottone, 33, of Hertel Avenue, is accused of keeping money collected since late August from dozens of businesses andindividuals for advertisements in a yearbook, according to Little League President Richard Mathewson.

"We want to make sure people know it isn't the league -- it's some jackass taking advantage of the kids," Mathewson said. "We want to do what's right."

Mathewson said the league is attempting to determine the businesses and individuals Cottone solicited in order to "make good" on their promised ads.

Some are certain to fall through the cracks, however, Mathewson admits.

He urges those who don't see their ads published when the yearbook is released in coming weeks to contact Cindy Palumbo, Little League board member, at 875-1148, for a refund.

"Notify us and we will handle it," Mathewson said.

"After so many years, we fought to get where we are and all of the sudden here is this guy who's going to give us a black eye."

"We couldn't believe there'd be anybody out there who like to take money away from kids."

The Little League is in its fourth decade and serves about 250 children ages 5 to 15 in the Black Rock and Riverside neighborhoods. The league supports itself solely on donations, according to board member Jim Palumbo.

Palumbo said Cottone joined the Little League as a coach this summer and was eager to solicit donations for the yearbook.

However, after collecting money, he never turned it in, said Don Nelson, football coordinator and board member.

"The reason we had him arrested (Wednesday) is because he was out collecting money again," Nelson said.

Cottone is scheduled to be arraigned today in City Court.

Little League officials cautioned businesses and individuals to be wary of Cottone if he visits them, stressing Cottone is no longer affiliated with the Little League.


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