DA's office will conduct forensic investigation on $1.7M embezzlement case

8 arrested including Public Works Dept. accountant

DAs office will conduct forensic...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's office is investigating 8 people including a county employee for misappropriation of approximately $1.7 million dollars of public funds.

Lynn Hogan has been employed by the county since 1988 and served as a senior accountant for the public works department. Hogan along with her alleged co-conspirators were arrested Thursday. 

"Lynn Hogan is a senior accountant with the public works department in the county of Santa Barbara. She was arrested yesterday along with 7 other persons after an investigation by our office related to embezzlement of public funds," said Brian Cota, senior deputy district attorney.

Michele Lavin, Leanna Harada, Christina Huffman, Michael Anzivino and Vincent Anzivino, all from Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, and Wendy Puchili, a resident of Wyoming, along with Richard Kaplinski, who is now residing in Merced, California, were arrested in connection to this case. 

An arrest warrant was also issued for Michael Elliott, a resident of Pennsylvania. 

According to an audit partner with Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf, LLP, an accounting, tax and audit services firm, misappropriation of funds can happen if there are improper segregation of dutues such that one person was performing too many tasks. 

"They would be able to conceal thefts without proper oversights. You should have approvals and duties in your accounting that are segregated. One person shouldn't be receiving cash, posting transactions and have full realm of records," said Danna McGrew, Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf, LLP audit partner.

The DA's office will conduct a forensic investigation on this case. 

"A forensic investigation is very specific compared to a financial statement audit. This type of investigation is where they focus on where the fraud occurred," said McGrew. 

It will include searching through years' worth of records to find where fraud began and trace funds. 

McGrew also said collusion would make cases of misappropriation even more difficult. 

Hogan and the other defendants are expected to be in court for arraignment on Monday.

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