Stephen Gibbons, Assistant District Attorney
Dale B. Lohman, Deputy District Attorney
Major Fraud Unit
For release on December 27, 2005
FORMER WEST VALLEY COLLEGE DIVISION CHAIR CONVICTED OFMISAPPROPRIATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS AND TAX FRAUD
Diane Tsutsumi, former Division Chair of the Physical Education Department at West Valley College in Saratoga, pleaded "no contest" this morning to two felony charges: Misappropriation of Public Funds (Penal Code section 424(a)) and Subscribing a Fraudulent Tax Return (Revenue and Tax Code section 19705). She also admitted taking in excess of $150,000 from the West Valley-Mission College District.
Tsutsumi embezzled approximately $200,000 by renting out the college’s tennis courts to private individuals between 1997 and 2004 and using the funds for her own personal use. She also submitted over $50,000 of fraudulent expense claims to the college during the same period and filed fraudulent personal income tax returns with the State of California for tax years 1998 through 2003 which failed to disclose the income from the tennis court rentals.
When confronted about renting out the tennis courts and pocketing the cash, Tsutsumi claimed to have used the money to make purchases on behalf of the college. However, the receipts she provided in support of her claim turned out to be false. Some were duplicates of prior expense reimbursements while others were for items that had never been purchased or had been purchased for her own personal use. The defendant used the cash tomake investments and buy personal items such as an expensive stereo, art work, luggage, landscaping materials and a kitchen sink.
Pursuant to a negotiated settlement, Tsutsumi will be sentenced to three years in state prison provided she has paid full restitution by the time she is sentenced on February 24, 2006. She also agreed to pay $27,000 in fines and penalty assessments. The pleas follow a one-and-a-half year long investigation by the West Valley-Mission College District Police Department and the Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney.