Calliope R. Saaga, also known as "Ope," 40, of Saratoga Springs, Utah, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to one count of wire fraud.
Saaga, doing business as Present America Tours, LLC, contracted with the Willard High School Band Boosters in January 2011 to provide travel arrangements for a June 2012 band trip to Hawaii.
Saaga was responsible for booking airfare, lodging, transportation, meals, tours, and travel insurance for more than 300 students and chaperones. The Willard High School Band Boosters wired 12 payments of $30,000 each to Saaga between February 2011 and January 2012.
Saaga booked no reservations as required in the contract. Instead, as he received wire transfers from the band boosters, Saaga used the funds to finance his personal lifestyle, including at least 47 days spent gambling in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As a result of Saaga’s diversion of funds, the Willard High School band trip was cancelled and the Willard High School Band Boosters suffered a loss of $360,000.
While he was spending the money of the Willard High School Band Boosters to finance his personal lifestyle, Saaga transmitted e-mails about details of the trip to the Willard High School director of bands, which lulled the band boosters into believing that their trip to Hawaii was on schedule.
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