Director allegedly gambled from business' account

The executive director of Carson City's public-access television channel is being investigated by police for allegedly embezzling thousands of dollars from the nonprofit organization, said Peter Smith, vice president of Carson Access Television's board of trustees.

Executive director Craig Swope is on unpaid administrative leave following his alleged admission Tuesday to CAT 10 treasurer John McKenna. Swope, on a scheduled vacation with his family, was unavailable for comment.

Swope allegedly told board members this week that for several months he'd been using money from the business account because of a gambling problem, Smith said. He had been repaying what he'd taken out, according to Smith.

But about $5,000 in checks written on CAT 10's account were awaiting payment at a bank because the account has insufficient funds to cover them, he added.

"Most of the money went back into the television station's bank account, but some money is clearly missing," Smith said.

To cash a check on the CAT 10 account, Smith said, two signatures are needed -- Swope's and that of either CAT 10 President Tom Baker or McKenna.

"It appears he was signing for John McKenna," he said.

"Craig has promised to repay all these checks. He said he's made arrangements, but we haven't actually seen the money yet."

An audit of the account is under way to determine the amount missing.

Smith said the decision to turn the matter over to sheriff's investigators was made after an emergency meeting of board members Tuesday afternoon. The complaint was filed Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

"We just were not comfortable keeping this amongst ourselves," he said. "We're sort of a public board, and we really owe the city government an explanation about where their money goes."

CAT 10 is contracted by the city to record and broadcast public meetings. It also provides public service broadcasts of community events, locally produced programs and announcements.

Swope used to work for radio station KPTL-AM in Carson City, where he was news director, general manager and a well-known on-air personality for 15 years before taking over CAT 10 in 1998.

Detective Richard Mendoza confirmed the Carson City Sheriff's Department is investigating the matter.

"I haven't had a chance to talk with (Smith or Swope)," he said Wednesday.

"We've turned it over to the sheriff and district attorney's office to let them handle it," Smith said. "We are certainly hoping Mr. Swope can cover the shortages and expect that would carry weight with the law enforcement "

"(CAT 10) still has the option as a victim to take his payment and drop the charges," Mendoza said. "It's not special treatment. That's an option anyone has as a victim."


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