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Travel Agent Faces Federal Indictment for Scam on Willard Band Boosters

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A travel agent from Utah was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday for stealing $360,000 from the Willard High School Band Boosters, forcing the cancellation of a Hawaii trip for 300 students and chaperones.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A travel agent from Utah was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday for stealing $360,000 from the Willard High School Band Boosters, forcing the cancellation of a trip for 300 students and chaperones to Hawaii.

Calliope Rocky Saaga, also called “Ope”, 39, of Saratoga Springs, Utah, faces the 15-count indictment, which includes 12 counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering.

According to the indictment, Saaga was doing business with the Willard High School Band Boosters in January 2011 by providing travel arrangements for a band trip as Present America Tours, LLC.

The trip was scheduled in June 2012 to Hawaii and Saaga was responsible for booking airfare, lodging, transportation, meals, tours, and travel insurance for over 300 students and chaperones.

According to a statement from U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson, the Willard High School Band Boosters wired 12 payments of $30,000 each to Saaga between Feb. 2011 and Jan. 2012.

Saaga booked no reservations as required in the contract, according to the indictment.

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, Nev., international travel to Samoa, a trip to Disneyland, and numerous other expenses unrelated to the terms of the contract.

Because of his use of the funds, the Willard High School band trip was cancelled and the Willard High School Band Boosters suffered a loss of $360,000.

The statement from Dickinson says Saaga sent emails to the Willard High School band director to lull the organization into believing their trip to Hawaii was on schedule.

Along with the counts of money laundering and wire fraud, the indictment 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.

Willard High School officials were not ready to comment on Wednesday.


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