GLENDORA, Calif. — A year-long probe into the murky world of youth soccer has led to the arrest of more than a dozen hyper-involved moms in this affluent community nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The soccer moms face charges ranging from serving unauthorized sports drinks to fixing game schedules to match the private school calendar.
Officers from the Glendora Police Department carried out the raid in the early hours of Saturday morning while a group of moms were in the middle of conspiring to rig the following week’s snack schedule. In total, 14 soccer moms were arrested.
“These soccer moms are not as nice and rule-abiding as they appear,” said City Attorney Lane Weech. “Sure, they dress in mom jeans and they never, ever say the f-word, but most of them will do whatever it takes to make sure their kid gets a trophy at the end of the season.”
Although the Glendora Youth Soccer Association’s motto is “play by the rules and have fun,” for years rumors have circulated that the league’s most prominent moms have been conspiring to get special treatment for their children. In 2012, one mom of a “shy but eager” third-grade girl was banned from the league after it was discovered she had offered to sew fun patches onto the entire team’s uniforms in exchange for her daughter to be moved out of the goal box.
Many of the soccer moms who were netted in the operation are among the most prominent moms in the mom community, and some are also members of the PTA and scouting associations.
Real estate agent Christy Ashcraft, 36, whose twin nine-year-old sons Dylan and Aiden play in the league, stands accused of baking brownies for coach Tyler Walker, who went on to award the boys with extra orange wedges after practice.
Judy Younan, 41, who owns Bandit’s Bar and Grill with her husband Don, allegedly used her personal contacts in the yoga community to secure a sponsorship package that put the restaurant’s cartoon bandit mascot on all the league’s uniforms for the 10-11 age bracket.
Stay-at-home mom Denise Bitburg, 26, is suspected of being the mastermind behind a carpooling scheme that allowed certain mothers to get out of driving their children to games and practices.
Perhaps the most shocking accusation is against Andrea Bottega, 32, who as a mom volunteers for her local school library and also leads a church youth group. Hundreds of hours of police surveillance video show her collecting shin guards left behind by the players of opposing teams. Over two years she collected more than 100 shin guards, police say, which she then took home, cleaned, and sold on the black market.
Weech says he believes that few of the moms will enter into plea agreements, even though doing so would allow them to get away with light sentences of community service.
“Soccer moms are a notoriously tight-lipped group,” he said. “Many will prefer going to jail than admitting that they paid $10,000 for their kids to go to a month-long British soccer camp just because there was a photo of David Beckham on the flyer.”