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3 Capistrano head football coaches fired after spending probe

February 28, 2012 |  9:14 am

Three head football coaches have been fired by the Capistrano Unified School District after a lengthy investigation into allegations an athletics company converted school funds into personal accounts for them, according to a report in the Orange County Register.

Eric Patton of San Clemente High, Chi Chi Biehn of Capistrano Valley High and Brent Melbon of Dana Hills High were terminated by the school board Monday in a unanimous vote.

The allegations were raised by a married investor couple in Irvine who bought the Laguna Hills-based Lapes Athletic Team Sales as the company neared bankruptcy in 2008. The Register said the district's investigation revealed personal spending accounts provided by the athletic company allowed taxpayer money to be converted into personal credits that could be spent without oversight.

The Register's own investigation found that much of the money went back into the schools' athletic programs, but the coaches did spend money on clothing and other personal uses.

Patton, who showed up briefly at the Monday meeting, had dozens of supporters; the other two did not attend nor did they have any supporters there on their behalf.

School officials said Monday that Patton had resigned, although the coach, in an email to The Times, said he resigned Jan. 30, after the school held its football banquet.

"I had wanted to finish with this class because several years previously I had promised a mother of one of my players that I would finish my tenure as head coach with her son, and it just seemed like good timing," Patton said in the message to The Times' Varsity Times Insider.

"I have always had as a goal not to announce in a public fashion my retirement from coaching before the end of the season in order not to distract from the team's accomplishment."

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-- From a Times staff writer

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