Santa Clara Swim Club has fired Head Coach John Bitter and now a police investigation is underway. The club sent out a letter to its membership on Saturday that announced Bitter’s termination.
The website Swim Swam received a copy of the letter sent to membership by Board of Directors member Niko Meadors. It read in part, “We realize that this may come as a shock to most of you, and please understand that there were solid circumstances that led to this decision. We are in the process of working with authorities and USA Swimming [sic] has been contacted. We have gathered evidence that shows there has been a minimum of $600,000 misappropriated funds from Santa Clara Swim Club.”
The Santa Clara Police Dept. (SCPD) confirmed that an accusation of mishandled funds was reported to the department on Saturday.
“Investigators are working on the case and looking at the different angles to determine what happened,” said Capt. Wahid Kazem of the SCPD told the Weekly. “During this time we’re trying to get a better understanding of how finances worked within the organization. We’re very much in the infancy of our investigation.”
The Weekly has reached out to Bitter for comment, but has not received a reply. Police say they have not talked to him yet.
The Santa Clara Swim Club listed assets exceeding $1 million on its 2016 tax return according to the website Charity Navigator.
Bitter served as the head coach of the Santa Clara Swim Club since 2006. He was named CEO of the organization in 2009. His picture and biography are no longer on the club’s website.
Bitter is also well connected to the USA Swimming community. He serves as an Ex-Officio in the Pacific Swimming Local Swim Community Board of Directors and is a former Vice-Chair of Program Development for USA Swimming.
Santa Clara Swimming is expected to hold a meeting for membership in the near future.