Travel agent charged with stealing $272,500 from Arkansas high s - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Travel agent charged with stealing $272,500 from Arkansas high school band

Posted: Updated:
Southside High School band in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Southside High School photo) Southside High School band in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (Southside High School photo)
FORT SMITH, Ark. -- Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Calliope “Ope” Rocky Saaga, 40, of Saratoga Springs, Utah, appeared today in United States Magistrate Court for arraignment before United States Magistrate Judge James Marschewski on a three-count indictment for wire fraud accusing Saaga of stealing $272,500 from the Southside High School band. Saaga was indicted by a federal grand jury on those charges on May 7, 2014.

U.S. Attorney Eldridge commented, “As alleged, this case involves defrauding high school students and their parents out of money set aside to take a once-in-a-lifetime band trip. It is unfathomable that someone would take money from students seeking to do something worthwhile—in this case travel to perform as part of the Southside High School Band. We will continue to prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.”

“This malicious scheme not only affected Southside High School but innocent students and parents as well,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge David Resch. “We appreciate our team in their efforts to aggressively investigate this case.”

As alleged in the indictment, in August 2011, Saaga was doing business through his companies, Performing Hawaii Tours LLC and Present America Tours LLC, when he contracted with the Southside High School Band in Fort Smith, Arkansas, to provide travel arrangements for a 2012 trip to Hawaii. The Southside High School Band wired him three payments between September 2011 and February 2012. Instead of arranging the trip, Saaga converted the money for his personal use, and the band trip to Hawaii was subsequently canceled due to a lack of funds. The scheme resulted in defrauding the Fort Smith Southside Band, students, and parents of approximately $272,500.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violations. The sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum of 20 years for each count in this case and in most cases will be less than the maximum.

In a separate case, Saaga was indicted on May 7, 2014, and charged with 12 counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Missouri, for stealing $360,000 from the Willard High School Band Boosters, which forced the cancellation of a trip to Hawaii for more than 300 students and chaperones.

This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Mark Webb is prosecuting the case for the United States.

Source:  FBI News Release

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • Alabama farmers honored at the White House

    Alabama farmers honored at the White House

    Monday, July 28 2014 5:52 PM EDT2014-07-28 21:52:40 GMT
    Two Alabama farmers are being honored at the White House. Bill Bridgeforth of Tanner and Lee Haynes of Cullman are among 15 people being recognized as "Champions of Change" in Washington on Tuesday. The the Agriculture Department honors people who are empowering and inspiring members of their local communities.Bridgeforth is a fourth-generation farmer in Limestone County. He's also a county chairman of the National Black Growers Association.Haynes is an egg farmer in Cullman County. After gra...More >>
    Two Alabama farmers are being honored at the White House. Bill Bridgeforth of Tanner and Lee Haynes of Cullman are among 15 people being recognized as "Champions of Change" in Washington on Tuesday. The the Agriculture Department honors people who are empowering and inspiring members of their local communities.Bridgeforth is a fourth-generation farmer in Limestone County. He's also a county chairman of the National Black Growers Association.Haynes is an egg farmer in Cullman County. After gra...More >>
  • FAA proposes to fine Southwest Airlines $12M

    FAA proposes to fine Southwest Airlines $12M

    Monday, July 28 2014 3:19 PM EDT2014-07-28 19:19:17 GMT
    The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it is proposing a $12 million civil fine against Southwest Airlines for failing to comply with safety regulations related to repairs on Boeing 737 jetliners. Beginning in 2006, Southwest made "extreme makeover" alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners, the FAA said. An FAA investigation determined that Southwest's contractor, Aviation Technical Services Inc. of Everett, Washington, failed to follow proper ...More >>
    The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it is proposing a $12 million civil fine against Southwest Airlines for failing to comply with safety regulations related to repairs on Boeing 737 jetliners. Beginning in 2006, Southwest made "extreme makeover" alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners, the FAA said. An FAA investigation determined that Southwest's contractor, Aviation Technical Services Inc. of Everett, Washington, failed to follow proper ...More >>
  • Nationwide manhunt for Ozark man accused of kidnapping, sexual assault

    Nationwide manhunt for Ozark man accused of kidnapping, sexual assault

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-07-28 02:00:39 GMT
    David PittsDavid Pitts
    A 30 year old woman and 8 year old child are receiving medical treatment after they were kidnapped and sexually assaulted. A nationwide manhunt is now underway for the suspect.More >>
    A 30 year old woman and 8 year old child are receiving medical treatment after they were kidnapped and sexually assaulted. A nationwide manhunt is now underway for the suspect.More >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • 2 arrested in Anniston after toddler found with broken ribs, cigarette burns

    2 arrested in Anniston after toddler found with broken ribs, cigarette burns

    Friday, July 25 2014 6:33 PM EDT2014-07-25 22:33:16 GMT
    Police in Anniston have arrested two people on charges that they physically abused a 2-year-old girl found with cigarette burns and fractured ribs.More >>
    Police in Anniston have arrested two people on charges that they physically abused a 2-year-old girl found with cigarette burns and fractured ribs.More >>
  • Ozark man wanted in abduction, sexual assault of woman and her child at knife-point

    Ozark man wanted in abduction, sexual assault of woman and her child at knife-point

    Friday, July 25 2014 4:33 PM EDT2014-07-25 20:33:58 GMT
    A nationwide search is underway for an Ozark man who allegedly abducted and sexually assaulted a 30-year-old woman and her 8-year-old child at knife-point Friday morning.More >>
    A nationwide search is underway for an Ozark man who allegedly abducted and sexually assaulted a 30-year-old woman and her 8-year-old child at knife-point Friday morning.
    More >>
  • Fort Payne man charged with breaking into home in Cherokee County, assaulting ex-girlfriend, others with knife

    Fort Payne man charged with breaking into home in Cherokee County, assaulting ex-girlfriend, others with knife

    Friday, July 25 2014 4:19 PM EDT2014-07-25 20:19:15 GMT
    A Fort Payne man was arrested this week after he allegedly broke into a home in Cherokee County and assaulted his ex-girlfriend and others with a knife, authorities said.More >>
    A Fort Payne man was arrested this week after he allegedly broke into a home in Cherokee County and assaulted his ex-girlfriend and others with a knife, authorities said.More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
Powered by WorldNow

ABCNews4 WCIV-TV

888 Allbritton Dr.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
843-881-4444 | Advertising Information

Public Information File

For assistance with accessing WCIV-TV's public information file, click here.

Advertising

Advertising Credit Application and Terms and Conditions PDF.

Powered by WorldNow
All content Copyright © 2014 WCIV and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.