Stephen Gibbons, Assistant District Attorney
Dale B. Lohman, Deputy District Attorney
Major Fraud Unit
For release on June 21, 2005
WEST VALLEY P.E. INSTRUCTOR ARRESTED FOR EMBEZZLING A QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS IN PUBLIC FUNDS
Diane Tsutsumi, age 59, of San Jose, California, was arrested today following a joint investigation by the West Valley – Mission College District Police and the Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney. Tsutsumi is charged with nine felony counts including Misappropriation of Public Funds (Penal Code section 424(a)), Embezzlement by a Public Employee (Penal Code section 504), Presentation of a False Claim to a Public Officer (Penal Code section 72), and filing Fraudulent Tax Returns (Revenue & Tax Code sections 19705 and 19706).
It is alleged that Tsutsumi, a tennis instructor and former division chair of the Physical Education Department at West Valley College in Saratoga, California, embezzled over $200,000 by renting out the college’s tennis courts to private individuals between 1997 and 2004 and taking the funds for her own personal use. The defendant 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 by failing 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. 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 personal use. The defendant used the cash to buy personal items such as an expensive stereo, art work, luggage, landscaping materials and a kitchen sink.
Tsutsumi’s bail is currently set at $300,000. She is expected to be arraigned in Superior Court this afternoon. If convicted, she could face over ten years in state prison.