An Ellicott City man was arrested yesterday on charges of bilking Carroll County parents of nearly $8,000 by registering their sons for a bogus amateur baseball team last year, authorities said.
Police said Jack Anthony Norris, 44, of the 3200 block of Sonia Trail collected the money from 17 people in Sykesville and other Carroll communities, promising to refund the bulk of it after uniforms were paid for by an unspecified benefactor.
Norris was found hiding late Wednesday in a closet in a Pikesville home and taken to the Westminster barracks and charged with theft and theft scheme.
He also was wanted on outstanding warrants from Howard County for failing to appear in court in July and a violation of probation from a 1996 theft, forgery and uttering case involving seven victims, according to state police and court documents.
Norris, who state police said is also known as Jack Dorvis, is being held in lieu of $43,000 bail at the Carroll County Detention Center in Westminster.
In Carroll, Norris is accused of plotting to register players for an amateur baseball team between July 12, 1998, and Dec. 29, 1998. The sign-up fee for about half of them was $375 and others apparently paid more, including one who allegedly handed over $1,100 to Norris.
It appeared the higher fees might have included costs for off-season training sessions.
When refunds were not received by May, complaints were made to state police in Westminster, and an investigation began.
By July 18, Trooper 1st Class P. Lacy sought an arrest warrant, saying Norris had failed several times between May and July to meet to discuss refunding the money.
Most of the complainants live in Sykesville and the Marriottsville area. All the incidents originated in Carroll County, court documents showed.
A Hampstead woman told state police that Norris had approached her at Four Seasons Sports Complex in Hampstead, Lacy said. The woman paid $375 to Norris, believing he was affiliated with the sports complex, but Lacy said no such affiliation existed.
In one instance, Norris alleged he was affiliated with Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks, but team officials in Arizona said they had never heard of Norris and had no East Coast affiliations, Lacy said.
Lacy learned that all checks paid to Norris were cashed at a Randallstown liquor store, and the investigation led to Norris' sister, who lives in Pikesville.
Lacy said the woman was reluctant to talk, but did say her brother had fallen on hard times in the past two years because of medical bills incurred by his wife's illness.
A bail bondsman found Norris hiding in her closet, Lacy said yesterday.
Norris waived a bail review hearing in Carroll County District Court yesterday, court records showed.
If released on bail, Norris would be taken to the Howard County Detention Center on the outstanding warrants there, court records showed.