The former chairman for the nonprofit organization tasked with administering SLO County Public Access Television (SLOCOPA) has been sentenced after he pleaded no contest to embezzling approximately $2,500 from the organization, though he says there’s more to the story.
Anthony Pope, 55, originally of Long Beach, was sentenced July 6 to 180 days in county jail and three years of formal probation, though he will receive 56 days’ credit for time served and good behavior.
Pope pleaded no contest April 11 in SLO Superior Court to taking $2,525 in funds designated to purchase camera equipment and help the public in producing programs. Funds for local public access come from cable provider Charter Communications, which is required by state law to pay 1 percent of its annual gross revenues for public, educational, and government programming.
The city of San Luis Obispo terminated its contract with SLOCOPA on May 17—essentially dissolving the organization—after Charter refused to work with the organization any longer, even though Pope has since been replaced on the board of directors.
Pope, however, told New Times that the SLOCOPA board was trying to “sensationalize” the charges against him in order to distract from what he said were more egregious misappropriations in the past. He said he made several formal complaints in August 2010 to the city about the way SLOCOPA was appropriating funds in the past, which he said made him a target.
“They’re trying to use me as a scapegoat,” Pope said.
Superior Court Judge Linda Hurst gave Pope six weeks to apply for a home detention program. He is required to surrender to authorities Sept. 2.