Travel Agent Charged With Stealing $272,500 From Southside Band

A travel agent from Saratoga Springs, Utah was charged, on May 7, with stealing $272,500 from the Southside High School Band in Fort Smith, according to a news release.

Calliope “Ope” Rocky Saaga, 40, appeared Monday in U.S. Magistrate Court before Judge James Marschewski on a three-count indictment for a wire fraud scheme, according to a news release from Conner Eldridge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.

U.S. Attorney Eldridge commented, “As alleged, this case involves defrauding high school students and their parents out of money set aside to take a once-in-a-lifetime band trip.  It is unfathomable that someone would take money from students seeking to do something worthwhile – in this case travel to perform as part of the Southside High School Band.”

“This malicious scheme not only affected Southside High School, but innocent students and parents as well,” stated FBI Special Agent David Resch.

Saaga was doing business with the Southside High School Band to provide travel arrangements for a 2012 trip to Hawaii. He was wired three payments between Sept., 2011, and Feb., 2012, and instead of arranging the trip, Saaga used the money for personal use, according to the news release.

The trip ended up being cancelled due to lack of funds, the release states.

If convicted, “The sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum of 20 years for each count in this case, and in most cases will be less than the maximum,” the release states.

8 comments

  • Sarah 1

    This may be white collar crime, but lock her up and twenty years per count, if found guilty. My heart goes out to the students.

  • Ron Snider

    He will get out of it. All he has to do is say he was molested as a child.

    The West Fork seniors lost money the same way, my school in Oklahoma lost money the same way, it is common knowledge that a large number of travel agents are crooks.

    Sadly the kids will not get their money back, as that scumbag likely has transferred all his assets into a child’s name, or gambled all the money away.

    I lost $1,400 my senior year the same way.

    • Mark Smith

      Ron whats the whole molested as a child thing as an excuse? I, for one, who was, have never used it as an excuse and I don’t know anyone who was, use it as an excuse. There is too much shame to even think of that.

      • Sarah 1

        Mark I am so sorry that happened to you. I hope you visited a counselor.

        @Ron Snider – maybe you should not use that comparison in the future.

    • Realist!!

      What is up with everyone getting upset when analogies are used?? The point he was making is that the guy will most likely use any excuse to divert blame. Grow some thick skin people, geez!!

  • Me

    I think Rob was trying to say that, in order to get lesser charges…all this man would have to do is make up some wild story about being physically/mentally abused as a child, and the courts would lap it up and give him a lesser charge.
    I don’t think he meant to target any one specific group of people.

  • Soonerfan

    I agree with Sarah 1. I also have a Grandson that was in this band. Hope he gets the rope for this. 20 years for each member wouldbe good.

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