A former school chairman was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison Mar. 17 for embezzling some 900 million yen and committing breach of trust to the tune of 20 million yen.

Takashi Mori, 57, former head of the now-bankrupt Mori Gakuen, an English-language school based in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, had been charged with pocketing about 1.1 billion yen from the school’s coffer. He allegedly spent the bulk of the money on property in the United States and gambling in Las Vegas.

In passing sentence, Tokyo District Court presiding Judge Akira Kanaya said the defendant had committed the crimes solely out of personal desire, confusing what could be his own assets with what the school held as a corporation. “It is a shameful act by an educator,” the court said.

According to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office, Mori embezzled 1.1 billion yen from the school between November 1985 and December 1987 by arbitrarily withdrawing money from the school’s bank accounts. He was also charged with a breach of trust by causing the school the same amount of loss.

During the trial, his defense argued that he was innocent. Following the verdict, they said they would consider filing an appeal.

The judge recognized that Mori had embezzled about 900 million yen of the 1.1 billion yen, but deemed the remaining 140 million yen as loans to friends of the defendant, accepting his argument. Mori Gakuen was founded by Mori and the late Toru Matsumoto, who long served as an English conversation teacher on an NHK program. The school went bankrupt in October 1991 after incurring huge debts.

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