Man pleads guilty to bilking high school band out of $360,000

Posted at 8:00 PM, Oct 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-16 22:00:35-04

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – More than three years after a travel agent bilked more than 300 students and chaperones at a Saratoga Springs high school out of $360,000, a U.S. Attorney announced the travel agent pleaded guilty to the charge of wire fraud.

Calliope Rocky Saaga, aka “Ope”, of Saratoga Springs pleaded guilty to stealing the money from the Willard High School Band Boosters, who had raised the funds for a trip to Hawaii. That trip had to be canceled.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri, Saaga began doing business with the band boosters in 2011 under the name Present America Tours, LLC. He agreed to provide arrangements for a trip to Hawaii in 2012, but instead spent the money.

The man did not book any reservations as required by the contract and used the funds he received to finance his personal lifestyle. He also spent at least 47 days gambling in Las Vegas using those funds, according to the press release.

The release states Saaga maintained correspondence with the band boosters, providing false details to maintain the illusion the trip would happen as planned.

A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled, and Saaga faces the possibility of up to 20 years in a federal prison without parole and a fine of up to $250,000.