A former band booster club treasurer for has been arrested on suspicion of embezzlement and grand theft, school district and police officials said today.
Paul Nogaki, 55, was arrested at about 2 p.m. Wednesday at his Buckwood Way home, according to sheriff's jail records.
"For the past two years, Nogaki was the treasurer for the Vista Murrieta Golden Alliance Band Boosters," said Murrieta police Sgt. Phil Gomez, in a news release.
"The booster club is a nonprofit organization comprised of parents of Vista Murrieta High School Band members," Gomez said. "The booster club raises money to assist and supplement band activities such as travel, food and other related expenses not covered under the school district budget."
Nogaki's post as treasurer ended in June 2012.
"The newly elected treasurer noticed discrepancies in the books and notified the booster club president. The Murrieta Police Department was then contacted and began its investigation," Gomez said.
Nogaki was arrested by Murrieta police detectives and later booked at the Southwest Detection Center on suspicion of the crimes.
He was released Thursday on $135,000 bail, jail records show, and was due in court Oct. 24.
The Golden Alliance Booster Club is a separate legal entity and they are independent of the school and the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, said Karen Parris, spokesperson for the district, in a news release.
"None of the school's teachers or administrators are officers in the booster club," Parris said.
New officers were elected at the end of last year, she said.
"When Nogaki turned over the records to the new treasurer last week, several irregularities, discrepancies and misuse of funds were found. An informal audit confirmed that former treasurer Paul Nogaki misappropriated Band Booster Club funds for his personal use and VMHS Principal Darren Daniel notified Murrieta Police Department early this week," Parris said.
"This is a very unfortunate and disappointing situation and the district is working closely with Murrieta Police Department on their investigation," she said.
Murrieta police are continuing their investigation.
"...Police have not determined the total amount missing from the account however the Booster Club President Craig Lobnow confirmed that they are planning to work to get restitution of the entire amount, Parris said.
"With the discovery of this incident, the Booster Club is also implementing more stringent policies and procedures to guide their financial management, reporting, and oversight of transactions."
According to Parris, Daniel met with the booster club parents Thursday night to inform them about the arrest.
"Unfortunately this individual took advantage of the trust placed in him. It is our hope that this individual's actions and lapse in judgment will not detract from the wonderful volunteer efforts and support our parents provide," Daniel said. "Fortunately, the Booster Club President has assured me that they will be able to continue to provide the necessities for the band program this year."
Daniel is also calling all band parents today to inform them about this "unfortunate series of events," Parris said.
"...Parents were shocked to learn that a trusted parent volunteer circumvented the procedures and processes that were in place to ensure financial oversight," Parris said.
"Booster Club officers and the band director were led to believe through regular reports they received that those procedures and practices were being followed."
Anyone with information in this case was asked to call Detective Jeff Ullrich at 951-461-6312 or Sgt. Phil Gomez at 951-461-6356. Information can also be provided anonymously through "We Tip" at 1-800-78-CRIME.