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Sheriff Probes Alleged Kickbacks to O.C. Coaches

The high school and college coaches are alleged to have received nearly $700,000 in taxpayer funds.

Allegations that local high school and college coaches received nearly $700,000 in kickbacks from a sporting goods company is now the subject of a special investigation by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

 Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino told Patch on Monday morning that an economic crimes expert has begun looking into the alleged kickbacks—prompted by a  in May—upon request from Orange County Superintendent of Schools Bill Habermehl.

"Financial crimes are usually a lengthy investigation," Amormino said, explaining that the investigator will have to sift through voluminous bank records looking for financial impropriety.

It is alleged that between 2000 and 2008, the Laguna Hills-based Lapes Athletic Team Sales put nearly $700,00 in taxpayer money into secret slush funds, some of which was given directly to coaches, according to records uncovered by Teresa and Geoff Sandos, an Irvine couple who took over the now defunct company.

The Sandos say the records show coaches from the were among the biggest money-makers. Coaches at , , Dana Hills High School, and were all involved, according to the Sandos.

Voice of OC reports that Habermehl sent a letter last week to Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, asking her to "thoroughly investigate" the allegations of wrongdoing and complete the investigation "as soon as possible."

The financial records had also been obtained by PBS SoCal, which reported coaches from Tesoro High, San Clemente High, Aliso Niguel High, Capistrano Valley High, El Toro High and Saddleback College were all involved.

To read the full story, click here

Julie Flores June 13, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Is it fair to use a picture of the Mission Viejo High School football team when it appears from your article that they are not involved in this investigation? It's misleading and unfair to the Diablos.
Martin Henderson (Editor) June 13, 2011 at 08:54 PM
You make a good point, Julie. I think Mission Viejo was selected because we have the best photos of them; they were one of the few teams still playing when Patch launched in December, otherwise we probably would have used a photo of San Clemente. It's probably not the best reason to use Mission. so I'll provide a better one: One of the assistant coaches at Mission Viejo is one of the coaches who was supposedly involved. So -- there's your connection. With an eight-year history, it's likely that every team has had a connection in some way to the scandal. When you start playing Six Degrees of Lapes Athletics, you're gonna get almost blanket coverage of South OC. What's frustrating is there are a lot of really good people who have done really good work that appear to be involved.
Julie Flores June 13, 2011 at 09:16 PM
With the vast coverage of high school sports that Patch covers its hard to imagine that you only have photos of Mission. If Mission is part of the investigation then I am surprised it was not covered in the article.
Jenna Chandler June 13, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Hey Julie, I just added a new photo—it's of a Capistrano Valley game. CVHS is one of the schools mentioned in this report.
Martin Henderson (Editor) June 13, 2011 at 09:48 PM
Julie, most Patch sites didn't launch until mid-December (or later), and by that time the football playoffs were at least into the semifinals. Mission reached the Pac-5 finals. St. Margaret's may have been the only other team in South OC that was still playing at that time. That's why there isn't a vast library of football photos.
Julie Flores June 13, 2011 at 09:49 PM
Thanks. I just felt the photo was not fitting since MVHS wasn't mentioned and it could cause some to be confused.

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