A Neptune man who coached a competitive youth softball team has been sentenced to five years’ probation after he pleaded guilty to misusing several thousand dollars of the team’s funds earmarked for traveling expenses and tournament costs, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced on Wednesday.
Michael Lane, 54, of Neptune was sentenced on Friday, October 14, 2022, before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Marc C. Lemieux. Along with five years’ probation, Lane was also ordered to pay $12,000.00 in restitution to be split among 10 families whose daughters played on the team.
Lane pled guilty on April 4, 2022 to third-degree Theft by Failure to Make Lawful Disposition of Property, following an investigation by detectives from the Tinton Falls Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
Lane, in his capacity as the coach for the Monmouth Surf softball team (a youth sports travel team) since 2013, received money from players to cover traveling expenses and tournament costs. But on July 3, 2019, parents for the players were informed by Lane he misused the funds given to him and the money was no longer available. He then informed parents he would pay back the funds but the players’ participation would have to be cancelled. When money was not paid back, parents reported the crime to law enforcement and the investigation by the Tinton Falls Police Department, with assistance from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, revealed the defendant did not utilize the funds for the softball team but instead cashed the checks that he received from the parents and used the money for personal expenses for himself and his family.
The case was assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Diane Aifer.
Lane was represented by Robert A. Honecker. of Ocean Township.