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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Buhach football coach guilty of bank embezzlement begins sentence in California

An assistant high school football coach and former loan officer this week began his 10-month sentence after pleading guilty to felony charges of grand theft by embezzlement.

Sammy C. Parker, 64, a well-known assistant football coach at Buhach Colony High School in Atwater, surrendered Tuesday at the Merced County jail. He was ordered to serve 10 months behind bars, but his jail time was converted to electronic monitoring, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office said.

Parker’s convictions stem from his career as a loan officer.

Judge Ronald W. Hansen approved the 10-month sentence, which also includes three years of probation and an order to repay all of the victims in the case, according to Merced Superior Court records.

Parker is allowed to leave his home for limited activities only, such as going to work or doctor’s appointments, according to Deputy District Attorney Walter Wall, the prosecutor in the case.

He pleaded guilty Nov. 19, 2013, to two felony counts of grand theft by embezzlement in connection with the theft of more than $13,000 from 36 victims between at least from August 2011 to January 2013 during his time as loan officer at International City Mortgage and the Mason-McDuffie Mortgage Corp. in Merced.

Parker said when reached at home Tuesday that he feels “really remorseful.”

“It was not my intention to hurt people, but unfortunately I did,” Parker said. “I’m just trying to square what I did with the people who were hurt.”

Wall said Parker will repay the victims all of what was stolen by June 24.

“He’s already repaid more than half of the restitution,” Wall said.

In exchange for Parker’s plea, prosecutors dismissed 25 additional charges, according to court records.

“With the payment of restitution and the felony convictions, I feel that justice was served in this case,” Wall said.

According to reports filed by District Attorney Investigator Anna Hazel, Parker claimed he took the money because his family was struggling financially, and felt International City Mortgage was not paying him fairly and believed they owed him the money.

Investigators said Parker asked borrowers to write $400 checks for “appraisal fees,” telling clients to leave the “payee” portion of the check blank. He promised to fill out the name himself once an appraisal company was selected, but instead put his own name on the checks and deposited them.

International City Mortgage fired Parker Jan. 24, 2013, and contacted the District Attorney’s Office, the report says.

Parker was arrested Aug. 5.

Aside from his loan officer career, Parker has been an assistant football coach at Buhach Colony High School for the past six years. Before his stint in Atwater, Parker was an assistant coach at Golden Valley High School for several years.

Parker said he plans on returning to the sidelines next season. “I hope so, at least that’s been the plan with this whole thing,” Parker said.

Head coach Kevin Navarra did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Parker said he wants to focus on “setting things right” by repaying the victims.

“Life is about making choices,” Parker said. “Unfortunately, that was a very bad choice on my part and I’m very remorseful for what took place.”

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