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PAUL BERSEBACH, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
San Clemente football coach Eric Patton, his friends and assistants reportedly received nearly $10,000 from Lapes Athletic Team Sales.

O.C. coaches reportedly tied to kick-back payments

OCVARSITY.COM

Some prominent Orange County high school coaches allegedly received kick-back payments from a sports apparel and equipment company, according to an investigation that aired on PBS SoCal's "Real Orange" on Wednesday night.

The report also questions whether some coaches used money from taxpayers to "purchase products that their school districts didn't authorize."

The report didn't state if the funds originated from schools or districts or booster clubs.

One of the most prominent coaches named in the investigation was veteran San Clemente football coach Eric Patton.

The report also said 29 Orange County schools or their staff members, along with Saddleback College, received kick-back payments. County schools listed included El Toro, Irvine and several schools in the Capistrano Unified School District.

 


 

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The now-defunct sports apparel and equipment company was Lapes Athletic Team Sales in Laguna Hills, the report said.

 

The main sources in the report were Geoff and Teresa Sando, former business partners of Lapes' former owner, Bill Lapes. Lapes is a former Calvary Chapel football coach.

From 2000 to 2008, a "secret slush fund" was built as the company sold athletic apparel and equipment to county schools and colleges in the area, according to the report. The report said the "slush fund" involved at least $700,000.

"That money went into accounts for school employees to use at their discretion," Teresa Sando said in the report.

The purpose of the slush fund was to reward coaches for their business, the report alleges.

No charges have been filed against the coaches, the report stated.

The report tied Patton to almost $10,000 in cancelled checks distributed from 2000 to 2006. Patton reportedly said in a 2009 deposition for a civil case by the Sandos against Bill Lapes that he didn't report the checks to his school or the CIF-Southern Section.

The investigation also said former Capistrano Valley football coach Chi Chi Biehn and "his associates" spent about $82,000 in "slush" money from 2000 to 2008.

The report also stated that the Capistrano Valley account dated back to 1993 and contained an addition sum of about $75,000. Some of the funds were used for fishing trips and Christmas presents, the investigation alleged.

Patton and Biehn didn't immediately return phone messages Thursday night.

The Capistrano, Saddleback Valley, Irvine and Saddleback College districts are investigating, the report said.

The Sandos invested "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in the Lapes company in 2007 and made loans to Bill Lapes, the investigation said.

Those loans weren't paid off and the Sandos eventually received a civil case award of $1 million in damages, according to the report.


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