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Smells Like Embezzlement: Capo Confirms Possible Sports Equipment Scam

The Capistrano Unified School District comments on initial findings of a nine-month investigation into possible kickbacks from a local sporting goods company.

It's looking like embezzlement of public money in Capistrano Unified's athletic department, a top administrator told the Orange County Register Wednesday.

District Superintendent Joseph Farley said early findings of an internal investigation show coaches in one of Orange County's largest school districts may have received kickbacks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from a local sporting goods company.

A PBS story broke in May that showed high school and college coaches across Orange County reportedly from a now defunct Laguna Hills sporting goods company.

According to the Register, for the past nine months, the Capistrano Unified School District has been conducting an internal investigation into the matter. The probe is separate from a .

"We believe there could have been criminal misconduct," Capo Superintendent Joseph Farley told the Register Wednesday. "The findings are significant enough that it merits being turned over to the sheriff's department."

In May, PBS SoCal reported that coaches from 29 schools received kickbacks from Lapes Athletic Team, a sports apparel and equipment company that did business with area school districts.

Between 2000 and 2008, the company put taxpayer money into secret slush funds, some of which was given directly to coaches, according to records uncovered by Teresa and Geoff Sando, an Irvine couple who took over the now defunct company.

To read Wednesday's Register story in its entirety, click here.

Capo mom July 14, 2011 at 02:35 PM
According to the Register article, the investigation in CUSD was initiated last October by the reform board that the teachers union disliked intensely. The union dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into a campaign that was based on lies to elect their own bosses, restore CUSD and "take back" their district. First act of the new union board? Closed session salary restoration to their campaign contributors in violation of the Brown Act. This type of activity is what the union sought to restore.
shelly July 14, 2011 at 05:15 PM
Capo Mom, It was a good idea to initiate this investigation. The current board voted to honor the contract with the district employees that the previous board had signed. The previous board imposed a contract that did not work so trigger language was added to contract. The previous board signed the modified contract with the trigger language. If the board would have negotiated the cuts and contract instead of imposing a contract then there would have been no money restored this year and the contract would have run its course. The increase of ADA this year would not have modified a negotiated contract. The current board is made up of a mix of board members. "just a parent" wrote yesterday on the comment board from the article "A time to talk" Parent-Teacher conferences extended for coming school year.", "The CUSDreform website headline states: "November 5, 2010 ELECTION ANALYSIS: Voters Continue to Entrust CUSD Control to Reform Trustees -- Union Fails to Gain Board Majority" http://www.cusdreform.com/ All the current decisions are being made with the "reform" trustees in the majority and in "control." I'd like to float the idea that we stop labeling and categorizing our elected officials."
shelly July 14, 2011 at 05:18 PM
actually "just a parent" posted his or her comment today
Capo Parent July 14, 2011 at 07:39 PM
CUSD can't escape bad or damaging news. Now that CUSD has spent close to a year investigating the matter and has determine there may have been criminal misconduct, what is CUSD going to do? Will it discipline or fire the teachers/coaches who took money for their own personal use? Will the teachers' union try to save these teachers/coaches from discipline and/or termination? Where is the outcry from Children's First, or does it only go after trustees that don't see the union way? Sounds like a lot of money that could have gone to sports programs in CUSD was wasted. This is truly sad given how hard sports programs have been hit, especially in light of the recent ACLU settlement.
Capo Parent Too July 15, 2011 at 03:49 PM
And this took place up until 2008, while "Reform" trustees sat on the board, should we blame them? The union has nothing to do with "sort of activity", this is a culture of corruption that has to do with team sports and these coaches will be dealt with when they are actually proven guilty, the district can't fire them until charges are officially filed. I'm glad you are here though to pin everything on the new board, you are especially good at showing your bias Jenni... Capo Mom.
just a parent July 15, 2011 at 04:33 PM
The Register article states that the district is turning this matter over to the sheriff's department for further investigation. It seems the district leadership is taking these allegations seriously and taking the appropriate steps in a measured and thoughtful manner. CUSD is a school district, it is not the place of a school district to determine criminal misconduct...that is the job of law enforcement and the courts. It is important to remember that this problem was not unique to CUSD. It is unfair to use the actions or poor choices of a few to indict an entire district, the board of trustees or teachers/coaches, in general.
Student July 15, 2011 at 05:46 PM
In fact, this has gone on with many school districts in OC and those school districts have completely dismissed the issue. It seems like CUSD is taking strong measures and following through appropriately.
Capo Parent July 16, 2011 at 03:17 PM
CUSD was right to turn over its findings to the Sheriff's Dept. if there is suspected criminal misconduct. However, what is CUSD going to do about the teachers/coaches involved from a discipline standpoint? If CUSD believes there is suspected criminal misconduct, then it needs to commence disciplinary proceedings.
Pam Sunderman July 16, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Are you insinuating that discipline needs to take place before any charges are proven against these coaches...that accusations and suspicion are enough?
Student July 16, 2011 at 06:23 PM
Are we in fact sure that disciplinary measures haven't been taken by the school district yet? The school district can enact disciplinary measures for violations of district policy but the district is not allowed to comment on that publicly. Unless one of the suspected coaches involved let's us know that disciplinary measures have taken place, we will never know and anything anyone says about it is nothing but hyperbole for argument's sake. As for criminal charges, that is totally out of the District's hands and up to the DA. I think the real question here is why hasn't the DA gotten involved sooner on this? Why is the DA waiting for the district to turn information over to law enforcement. This story broke in early May but has been investigated by the school districts since September and October. Where has the DA been this whole time?

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