KITV4 News has learned a substantial amount of money given to an Oahu travel agent by two mainland high school bands were lost in Las Vegas.
It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime for two high school marching bands in Arkansas and Missouri.
But, instead of being part of the Pan-Pacific Festival in June, hundreds of families are left wondering what happened to hundreds of thousands of dollars given to the owner of Performing Hawaii Tours.
"For how hard they worked and the money to be lost in a reckless manner, it's criminal. It goes beyond being criminal," said Sean Carrier, the assistant band director from Southside High School in Fort Smith, Ark.
Members of the Southside High School Rebel Band paid Ope Saaga $267,000 for their dream vacation.
The Willard High School Marching Band in Willard, Mo. paid another $360,000 for the same trip.
Saaga had brought the Willard band to Hawaii nine years ago.
"Very nice man, family man. Very upstanding. Everything. And we decided to go with him on this third trip this coming summer," said Chris Church, the Willard High School band director.
With $627,000 in his hands, the temptation may have been too much. Saaga headed to Las Vegas.
Like so many others, his dream of striking it rich in Vegas may have been his downfall.