Travel Agent Indicted in $360,000 Fraud Scheme
SPRINGFIELD, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a travel agent was indicted by a federal grand jury today 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.
Callipe Rocky Saaga, also known as “Ope,” 39, of Saratoga Springs, Utah, was charged in a 15-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Missouri.
According to today’s indictment, 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 over 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, the indictment says. Instead, as he received wire transfers from the band boosters, Saaga allegedly used the funds to finance his personal lifestyle, which included gambling in Las Vegas, Nevada, international travel to Samoa, a trip to Disneyland, and numerous other expenses unrelated to the terms of the contract.
As a result of Saaga’s diversion of funds, the indictment says, 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, the indictment says, Saaga transmitted e-mails to the Willard High School director of bands, which lulled the band boosters into believing that their trip to Hawaii was on schedule.
Today’s indictment charges Saaga with 12 counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Saaga to forfeit to the government any property derived from the proceeds of the alleged offense, including a $400,000 money judgment.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull, II. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation, the FBI, and the Willard, Missouri Police Department.
This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available online at http://www.justice.gov/usao/mow/index.html.