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Ex-Lynwood school official pleads guilty in financial theft case

September 4, 2012 |  8:21 pm

A former finance chief of the Lynwood Unified School District pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking more than $700,000 in public money to pay for personal taxes, hot tub equipment, hotels and tickets for sporting events .

William Douglas Agopian, 61, pleaded guilty to one felony count each of misappropriation of public funds and filing a false tax return. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 6 to five years in prison, Deputy Dist. Atty Dana Aratani said.

As part of his plea, Agopian admitted to aggravated white-collar crime and excessive-taking allegations, Aratani said. He entered his plea just before his preliminary hearing was to begin.

Aratani said the Santa Ana man used the money to finance a lavish style that included hotel bills, gasoline bills, restaurant bills and sports tickets, including those for the San Diego Padres.

Agopian was charged with stealing most of money from an account initially set up for a sister-city trip to Mexico for Lynwood Unified School District students, the prosecutors said.

The theft remain undiscovered until district officials researching ways to save money on bank fees came upon the secret account that only required Agopian's signature for withdrawals, according to prosecutors.

"He had an ATM card on that account," Aratani. "He took cash whenever he wanted."

As part of his plea, Agopian 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. If he fails to make pay back the money, he could face eight years in prison.

"We believe we are going to get back all the money for the schoolchildren," Aratani said.

Under the plea deal, prosecutors will ask that 22 remaining 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.

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--Richard Winton

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