Months after he was charged with 4 felonies, former Santa Clara Swim Club head coach John Bitter was arraigned on Tuesday in California on a total of 8 charges, including 6 felonies. Bitter is currently in custody after being arrested in Arizona and extradited back to California.
Bitter stands accused of embezzling after he misappropriated at least $600,000 in Santa Clara Swim Club money, which he is accused of using to purchase the Tipsy Coyote Bar and Grill in Scottsdale, Arizona.
According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the original bail at the time of arrest on May 24th was set at $500,000, but that at the arraignment Bitter was assigned a public defender and had bail reduced to $60,000. A special order was put in place that the source of any bail money be examined, given the nature of the charges against Bitter. Specifically, he’s not allowed to “sell or harm” the Tipsy Coyote, given that it is the subject of the embezzlement allegations.
Court records reveal that a hearing date for Bitter’s plea is set for June 20th, 2019 at 9:00AM.
Bitter was terminated by the club in September after the board of directors gathered evidence that they said showed that there had been a minimum of $600,000 in misappropriated funds. From 2009 through 2017 he was the General Chair of the Pacific Swimming LSC Board of Directors and is a former Vice-Chair of Program Development for USA Swimming. The Santa Clara Swim Club was a long-time host on USA Swimming’s Pro Swim Series (previously known as the Grand Prix Series), and for a period in the 1960s and 1970s was arguably the most successful club in the United States. Among the programs alumni are Pablo Morales, Don Schollander, Donna de Varona, and 9-time Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz.
Charges, according to a public information officer for the District Attorney’s office, are:
- 1 charge of grand theft by employee, agent, or servant of a value exceeding $950 (a felony)
- 1 charge of probation ineligibility for aggregate theft in excess of $100,000
- 1 charge of excessive taking of more than $500,000
- 2 charges of embezzlement by a public or private employee of a value not exceeding $950 (a felony)
- 3 charges grand theft of personal property of a value of more than $950 (a felony)