School district official pleads guilty to stealing money

LYNWOOD - Lynwood Unified School District's former chief business officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to diverting more than $700,000 in public money over four years to pay for sporting event tickets, hot tub equipment, hotels and paying his personal taxes, the District Attorney's Office announced.Deputy District Attorney Dana Aratani of the Public Integrity Division said William Douglas Agopian, 61, of Santa Ana, pleaded guilty to one felony count each of misappropriation of public funds and filing a false tax return. Aratani said he also admitted aggravated white-collar crime and excessive-taking allegations. Agopian entered his plea just before his preliminary hearing was set to begin. He returns to court Dec. 6 and is expected to be sentenced to five years in state prison before Judge Michael Tynan. He agreed to pay back $700,000 to the school district and $121,220 to the Franchise Tax Board by Dec. 6, when he surrenders to begin his prison sentence. Agopian pleaded guilty to diverting money from a bank account that was not on the school district books. The account had initially been established to facilitate a sister-city trip to Mexico for Lynwood Unified School District students, the prosecutor said. The district discovered the secret account when officials were researching ways to save money on bank fees, Aratani said. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors will ask that the remaining 22 felony counts, including misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement by a public or private officer and filing a false tax return, be dismissed when he is sentenced. If he fails to pay back the money, he will be sentenced to eight years in state prison, Aratani said.

********** Published: September 6, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 21