WINSLOW — A Winslow man has been charged with embezzling money from a town youth soccer program, police said.

Charles Spaulding, 43, who was treasurer of the Winslow Travel Soccer Club, was charged Tuesday with theft by unauthorized taking, a class B felony, according to a news release from Winslow Police Chief Shawn O’Leary. Spaulding used the money for his own personal use, police allege.

“For me, this is one of the worst things an adult can do; it’s essentially stealing from kids,” O’Leary said in an interview Tuesday.

Spaulding was not arrested and was instead issued a court summons because he was cooperative with police officers and is not considered a flight risk, O’Leary said. The maximum punishment for a class B crime is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Police said financial irregularities were discovered Nov. 28 in the Winslow Travel Soccer Club bank accounts. The group’s executive board contacted Winslow police, who investigated the case for several months.

Detective Ron McGowen worked with executive board members and completed an audit of all the group’s accounts, finding that more than $15,000 was stolen during a five-year period.

On Tuesday, O’Leary said that Spaulding began by taking small amounts of money and progressively took larger sums. Many people who embezzle money fit into a pattern of taking small amounts of money they intend to repay, O’Leary said.

O’Leary said he was unsure how much money the Winslow Travel Soccer Club raises or how much it has in its bank accounts, but he noted that for such a small organization, $15,000 is “a substantial amount of money.”

Small, volunteer-run nonprofit organizations like the soccer program can be vulnerable to fraud and embezzlement, O’Leary said, especially since one person is placed in a position of trust to administer the group’s finances.

“They never think it’s going to happen to them,” O’Leary said. “Organizations have to be more diligent in setting up protocol that makes it more difficult to misappropriate funds.”

According to its website, the club is focused on providing an environment for children to learn soccer skills and teamwork. Formed in the 1990s, it is open to youth ages 8 to 13 from Winslow and surrounding communities without a travel soccer program.

Members of the nonprofit’s executive board did not return phone calls Tuesday afternoon seeking comment.

This is the third time in four years that theft charges have been filed against members of volunteer sports clubs in Winslow.

In October 2013, Winslow resident Wendi Willette, 41, was charged with stealing more than $10,000 from the Winslow High School Wrestling Booster Club, when she was treasurer of the organization. Willette pleaded guilty last month to stealing the money from the club, a smaller amount from the China Girls Field Hockey Team and up to $60,000 in state assistance. She has not been sentenced.

In late February, Ervin Morrison, 54, was arrested at his home in Vassalboro and charged with embezzling nearly $17,000 from All-Pro Sports in Waterville. According to the District Attorney’s Office, Winslow police previously had charged Morrison with class C theft from the Winslow Midget Football Association in 2011, but the charge was dismissed after restitution was paid in January 2012.

O’Leary said the three Winslow embezzlement cases are not connected.

Spaulding is scheduled to be arraigned June 9 at Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

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Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire