UPDATE, MAY 10, 1:35 P.M.: As the details of the Slush Fund controversy continue to develop, with a second report due out from PBS SoCal, the Weekly decided to follow up with the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD), which had stressed the fact it had been investigating this issue for some time. When we spoke with Marcus Walton, the chief communications offer for CUSD, he wouldn't divulge any details or announce any findings, saying only, "The investigation is ongoing." He did indicate the investigation began this past fall.
Two of the coaches highlighted in the PBS story (which you can view after the jump) are San Clemente head football coach, Eric Patton, and Chi Chi Biehn, a defensive backs coach with Capo Valley High. It's currently unclear whether either coach will face disciplinary measures.
ORIGINAL POST, MAY 5, 2:14 P.M.: Geoff and Teresa Sando found the files sitting among piles of boxes in a storage bin. They'd recently taken ownership of Lapes Athletic Team Sales, a Laguna Niguel-based company, and were going through all of the receipts and documents to determine where all the money they had lent the previous owner, Bill Lapes, had gone.
The files pertained to various accounts with high schools and colleges throughout Orange County. Scribbled on the files were the words "Slush Account."
In a month-long investigation that aired on Wednesday evening, David Nasar of PBS SoCal reported
that coaches from 29 schools had received kick-backs from school funds spent on athletic apparel and equipment with Lapes Athletic.
The files are from 2000 through 2008, and in total, indciate that nearly $700,000 was distributed to these slush fund accounts. According to the report, coaches would be over-billed on purchases from Lapes Athletic, using school and program funds, and would then receive a percentage of the excess cash, which were then used on personal expenses.
Schools from three school districts--Irvine Unified, Saddleback Valley Unified and Capistrano Unified--as well as Saddleback Community College, were identified in the report.
Two coaches from CUSD were identified as being major beneficiares of the secret kickbacks. Eric Patton, a football coach at San Clemente High, and Chi Chi Biehn, a former football coach at Capo Valley High, were both identified as having received and funneled thousands of dollars in slush funds.
A handwritten note from Patton to Lapes broke down specifically how the funds should be distributed, with checks (all under $600 to prevent the need for a 1099 tax form) to family members and assistant coaches.
Schools identified in the report include Savanna High, El Toro High, Murrieta Valley High, Aliso Niguel High, Dana Hills High and Tesoro High.
At the time of the report,
CUSD and IUSD indicated it is launching an investigation. At the time of the report, CUSD already had an investigation ongoing. So far no charges have been brought against any of the coaches mentioned.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department commented that they believe "there may be some wrong doing," but won't know for certain until it decides whether or not to conduct its own investigation. OCSD is awaiting results from the school district investigations.
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