A small bit of closure for the Santa Clara Swim Club (SCSC) and its members after former club president and CEO John Bitter pleaded no contest to felony charges of embezzlement, grand theft and forgery.
“The judge promised [Bitter] he would serve no more than five years, eight months, but he could also get no jail, I suppose, if he makes full restitution and the judge feels inclined,” said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Peter Waite.
Bitter’s attorney has argued that Bitter cannot pay restitution from jail. As a result, Bitter is on supervised release until his Jan. 10, 2020 sentencing hearing. Supervised release means he’s not supposed to leave the country and he is expected to surrender his passport until the hearing.
“The club will continue to pursue recovery of the misappropriated funds by Mr. Bitter,” said SCSC Board President Niko Meadors. “His actions have continued to negatively impact the Santa Clara Swim Club but we are grateful for everyone who has volunteered to help keep this program moving in a positive direction. We hope that Mr. Bitter will engage the process of paying restitution to SCSC, prior to his sentencing scheduled for January.”
Deputy District Attorney Waite believes Bitter owes approximately one million dollars in restitution. Bitter’s attorney has argued that the amount is much lower.
Bitter entered his “no contest” plea on Sept. 26 in front of Judge Socrates Manoukian. It was almost a year to the day that the SCSC Board of Directors fired him.
The SCSC Board of Directors voted to terminate Bitter’s contract with the club on Sept. 27, 2018. Around that time, the theft was also reported to the Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD), which opened an investigation.
The District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Bitter in April and in May, Santa Clara police flew to Arizona and arrested Bitter. He was brought back to Santa Clara County and made his first appearance before a judge on May 28.
Bitter was charged with taking out a loan of more than $600,000 in the swim club’s name. He used that money to make a personal investment in a bar in Scottsdale, Arizona. Bitter graduated from the University of Arizona.
Bitter began working with the SCSC in 1995, where he served as Associate Head Coach under Dick Jochums. He took over the position of Head Coach in 2006 and was given the title of CEO in 2009.
After Bitter was fired, Allison Beebe took over as interim head coach of the swim team. Beebe confirmed via email that she turned in her resignation at the end of the season. There is no word yet on who will replace Beebe as Head Coach.