A bookkeeper accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a Murrieta high school band booster club pleaded not guilty today to grand theft and other charges.
Paul Takuya Nogaki, 55, was arrested Aug. 29 for allegedly stealing funds from the Vista Murrieta Golden Alliance Band Boosters. He has been free on $135,000 bail since that time.
On Tuesday Oct. 23, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office filed charges of grand theft and falsification of records, as well as sentence-enhancing allegations of committing a white-collar crime resulting in a loss in excess of $100,000 and stealing property worth less than $150,000.
Nogaki entered his plea today before Superior Court Judge Elaine Johnson, who set a Nov. 20 felony settlement conference date.
According to Murrieta police, Nogaki served as treasurer of the nonprofit band boosters for two years, resigning from the post in June.
Not long afterward, a new accountant began examining the club’s books and noticed irregularities that prompted him to contact the police department, said Sgt. Phil Gomez.
Following an investigation during which Nogaki allegedly made some admissions, he was arrested.
The Murrieta Golden Alliance Band Boosters provides funding for travel, food, equipment and other expenses incurred by the 250-member Vista Murrieta High School band.
The organization, comprised mostly of parents, is privately operated and receives no funding from the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, according to Gomez.