The former manager of bingo games at a North Park Catholic high school has been charged with forgery and grand theft in connection with the deposit of two checks totaling $1,000 into his personal bank account.
Dean M. Hoffman, 67, faces arraignment Nov. 14 on the charges, which carry a maximum penalty of three years and eight months in prison and a $10,000 fine, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Douglas Gregg.
Gregg said Hoffman deposited two $500 checks from Trend Advertising into his personal account. Although one check was made out to Hoffman and the other to St. Augustine High School, which held the twice-weekly games, both checks were payments to the school for printed advertisements on bingo forms.
Hoffman said he deposited the checks into his account as repayment for money he spent over the years buying refreshments for the games.
The charges against Hoffman are byproducts of a random San Diego Police Department investigation into bingo operations at St. Augustine that began last November and resulted in a six-month suspension of the school's bingo license in July, Detective David Swartzendruber said.
Gregg said the police audit revealed a drop-off in bingo revenue over a period of several months. Although that could be an indication of large-scale skimming, he said, the lack of accounting data made it impossible to determine. Gregg described the games as a "cash-type operation with a number of people having access to it. That's the flaw in the system, no checks and balances." No accounting procedures were used until the end of the evening, when total income was recorded for deposit, he said.
Swartzendruber said the investigation uncovered 70 math errors in accounting as well as improper disbursements of funds, illegal commissions on the sale of bingo supplies, and other violations of municipal code ordinances.
Father John Pejza, principal of the school, said that in general he had been happy with the way Hoffman ran the operation. He said there were "no clear guidelines" for bingo operations and that he was unaware of any serious problems in the school's accounting until police investigators revealed them to him in May.
Pejza said bingo revenues "have been very important to the school" and that it may be necessary to use reserve funds for operations this year as a result of the license suspension. Reforms in accounting procedures will be in place when the city license is restored in January, he said.