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Coach Patton Proclaims Innocence in Kickback Scheme

SCHS football coaching vet, on administrative leave, grants his first extensive media interview since PBS implicated him in the scandal this spring.

Eric Patton says he is innocent of all charges in the alleged kickback scheme that led to his being replaced as football coach at San Clemente High and being placed on administrative leave by the Capistrano Unified School District, according to a story by Orange County Register reporter Dan Albano.

In his first interview since the allegations of wrong-doing surfaced, Patton, 61, said money he had in an account with the now-defunct Laguna Hills-based Lapes Athletic Team Sales was used to -- referred to as "slush" by then-owner Bill Lapes -- was actually a reserve account used to make purchases for the football program after the district funding was spent.

He went on to explain that once the season had ended, Lapes wanted to "clear out" Patton's account, so excess funds went to various people who had performed services for the program.

The Orange County sheriff's department is currently investigating the situation, but Patton told the Register that he has not been contacted.

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