School Truant Officer Faces Bookmaking Charge

A truant officer at South El Monte High School is under investigation for allegedly running a bookmaking operation from his campus office, authorities said.

Robert Bigler, 49, used his office at the school and his home to take bets on professional football and basketball and on college basketball games, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. George Vanecek.

He was arrested at the school Feb. 27 and is scheduled to return to court March 27, Vanecek said. Bigler remains free on bail.

Investigators said this week they have not determined whether any students or teachers were involved in the operation, which was believed to have lasted at least two years.

The Sheriff's Department received a tip in late 1996 about a teacher in a Los Angeles County school who was a bookie, but the tipster did not provide any details. In 1997, Vanecek said, a tip came in naming Bigler.

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