ANTIOCH -- A local youth baseball league has been operating with a revoked nonprofit status for more than two years, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
Antioch Babe Ruth League officials, however, only found out about it recently.
The revelation has led to a shake-up of the league's board of directors, a scramble to re-establish its financial footing and an investigation into why tax forms went unfiled for years.
According to the IRS, Babe Ruth's status was revoked May 15, 2010, as it failed to return its 990-series tax forms for three consecutive years.
Ed Daviess, who represented Babe Ruth in talks to get discounted water from Antioch, said he was told about the nonprofit status by someone from the city, then confirmed it by looking it up on the IRS website.
The news was revealed at an emergency board meeting Oct. 7.
"We were shocked," said Denise Grech, who had been in charge of Babe Ruth's fundraising. "It's supposed to be a nonprofit for the kids, and this screws it up for everybody."
A lot of parents in the league are upset, she said.
The league has filed reports with both the IRS and local law enforcement, said Daviess, who was appointed by now-former Babe Ruth board members to investigate the situation.
Babe Ruth held an election last week, with Daviess being chosen league president.
An IRS spokesman said he could not comment on the organization, or if an investigation is under way. Antioch police confirmed that a report has been filed.
According to minutes from the Oct. 7 meeting, former league Treasurer Gail Alfonso said she had not filed the Babe Ruth league's tax returns for the past six years, and did not give former board president Rich Cervantez or former senior division vice president Mike Dantono reason why she hadn't.
Alfonso was removed from her position at the meeting.
Grech says there seemed to be a lot of "fishy stuff," including a lack of submitted receipts and the unwillingness of the board to have its books audited.
Cervantez and Alfonso did not return calls seeking comment.
This week, Alfonso turned over her digital files to Jim Clay, an accountant working with the league to help get its financial affairs in order, Daviess said.
Clay should have the league's taxes prepared to be filed by Wednesday. Daviess said. The league then can file the paperwork to have its nonprofit status reinstated.
The league won't know what penalties and late fees will be assessed by the IRS until all the paperwork is filed, Daviess said.
In the meantime, Antioch Babe Ruth has suspended all fundraising events and snack bar sales, including a carwash that was slated to be held earlier this month.
"We don't want to mislead people and make sure everything is on the up and up and we're back to being a nonprofit," Daviess said.
Added Grech: "Hopefully, we can move forward and this doesn't hurt our upcoming spring and summer sign-ups. We're here for the kids and to keep the complex open."
The revelation of the league's legal status comes as it continues to work with the city, along with the Antioch Youth Sports Complex and the Antioch Historical Society, on ways for the groups to receive discounted water for its fields.
Antioch has provided water for the property Babe Ruth leases from Dow Chemical Co. since it was determined in the early 1990s that a well on the grounds was contaminated. The city had the well capped.
Antioch decided to end that practice earlier this year, and it is working with the league on alternatives. It will continue to work with the league as it deals with this situation, City Manager Jim Jakel said.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.