Former Santa Clara Coach John Bitter Sentenced to 3 Years in State Prison

Former Santa Clara Swim Club CEO and head coach John Bitter received a sentence of three years and four months in state prison in March, the Silicon Valley Voice reported Tuesday. His four felony charges include embezzlement, grand theft and forgery.

Investigators have found that Bitter embezzled a total of $753,698.37 from SCSC and the courts ruled in 2019 to award the swim club $50,000 in punitive damages, according to the Silicon Valley Voice. 

Bitter has reportedly repaid $29,000 of the more than $800,000 in total he owes to SCSC. We wrote in January 2020 that he was selling the Tipsy Coyote, the Arizona bar he bought using $300,000 of club funds, but court records show he is still battling a lawsuit regarding the bar. Any money that survives the lawsuit is to be given to SCSC.

In September 2018, Bitter was fired from the Santa Clara Swim Club after 12 years of head coaching and about 10 years of assistant head coaching at SCSC. Days later, the police began investigating accusations that Bitter embezzled at least $600,000 from SCSC.

In April 2019, the Santa Clara District Attorney filed the four felony charges against Bitter and he pled no contest to these charges in January 2020.

His sentence of three years and four months in state prison is relatively low. When Bitter pled no contest, Judge Socrates Manoukian stated he would serve a sentence no longer than five years and eight months in prison which is already three years less than the maximum sentence of his four charges.

A court spokesperson reportedly said Bitter may be able to serve out his sentence in a local jail rather than state prison, explaining he may have served enough time through custody and modified detention to merit that.

Santa Clara Swim Club has since hired former Scottsdale Aquatic Club head coach and CEO Kevin Zacher as their new head coach.

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Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

Man, how far SCSC has fallen from the George Haines days.

Comments are Closed
2 years ago

Anyone want to start the Tipsy Coyote Swim Club?

Reply to  Comments are Closed
2 years ago

I love the name of the bar!

Just for Kicks
2 years ago

Sorry to break it to you, but he only got time served and probation. He’s out and about.

Foreign Embassy
2 years ago

This is probably more common than reported. I heard, 20 years later, that the treasurer from my summer league team in the 90s was arrested for embezzling a whopping $25k over the course of 5 years. It’s very sad that volunteer parents of swimmers on the team would stoop that low, but here we are.

2 years ago

Bought a bar hahahahh

2 years ago

It’s always weird to me when I see stories like this. That’s a significant amount of money, how the hell did he think he wouldn’t get caught?

Reply to  Sarcastic
2 years ago

Maybe he put a decimal point in the wrong place, people are always screwing up mundane details like that when stealing and laundering money….

Reply to  Erik
2 years ago

Office Space reference? LOL

Reply to  Sarcastic
2 years ago

It is always the same story: he was too greedy to share.

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Reply to  Sarcastic
2 years ago

It was from the tech suit 12 and under fund.

Reply to  Sarcastic
7 months ago

They were raising money for a full refurbishment of the swim complex. So I’m guessing those are funds that he took…. maybe he had control and oversight and since it would not have been team operating money, it would be harder for them to know. (that’s just my guess). I was at a national select camp in Colorado Springs where he spoke to coaches about fundraising for the complex rebuild.

About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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