Utah man gets 5 years in prison for scamming band program
SPRINGFIELD (AP) - A Utah travel agent has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for taking money for a southwestern Missouri high school band trip to Hawaii that never happened.
Forty-year-old Calliope "Ope" Saaga also was ordered to pay more than $780,000 in restitution related his theft involving the Willard High School band and similar schemes that victimized two Arkansas school districts.
Saaga pleaded guilty last October in the Missouri case to one count of wire fraud.
Saaga, of Saratoga Springs, Utah, was hired to book airfare, lodging, transportation and meals for more than 300 Willard High School students and chaperones for a planned June 2012 Hawaii trip.
The band program's boosters paid him about $360,000. But prosecutors say he spent the money on Las Vegas gambling and other personal expenses.
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