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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.

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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