SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A senior level accountant for the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department is facing charges of misappropriation of public funds estimated to be upwards of $1,700,000 million.
Lynn Hogan was arrested by Santa Barbara County District Attorney investigators after a months-long investigation. She also faces forgery and conspiracy charges.
Michele Lavin, Leanna Harada, Christina Huffman, Michael Anzivino, and Vincent Anzivino, all from Santa Barbara or Ventura Counties, and Wendy Puchili a resident of Wyoming, along with Richard Kaplinski who is now residing in Merced, California were also arrested and slapped with the same charges as Hogan.
Hogan was the only county employee at the time of the arrests.
Additionally, an arrest warrant, alleging the same charges, was issued for Michael Elliott, a resident of Pennsylvania.
All those arrested are being held on $550,000 bail, except Kaplinski and Harada, who are being held on $475,000 bail.
The County of Santa Barbara released the following statement regarding Hogan's arrest and charges:
Today, District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced the arrest of several individuals for alleged theft of public funds. One of the individuals is employed by the County of Santa Barbara. Lynn Hogan is a senior level accountant in the Public Works Department, who has been employed by the County since 1988.
The arrests follow several months of investigation by the District Attorney’s Office after the County’s Auditor-Controller’s Office noticed suspicious activity in July and attempts to bypass internal control processes. Shortly thereafter, the Auditor referred the matter to the District Attorney’s Office for investigation.
The alleged fraud potentially involves diversion of about $1.7 million cumulatively over many years from various funds in the Public Works Department. While the precise amount of the alleged theft is still under investigation, losses due to employee malfeasance are covered by the County’s insurance. According to County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato, the County will be working with its insurer on a claim for recovery of funds in an effort that no public funds will be lost.
“We recognize the trust placed by those we serve; it’s a significant responsibility that we take very seriously,” said Joan Hartmann, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “We are committed to being responsible stewards of public funds to ensure no one can defraud our residents and taxpayers, or this organization. Staff will continue to fully cooperate with the District Attorney’s Office in its investigation.”
Since it was discovered, the Auditor-Controller and Public Works Director have been working with the District Attorney’s office, according to Miyasato.
“We will get to the bottom of this and ensure there is full accountability for those responsible,” said Miyasato. “We are aware that a criminal charge is an accusation, and any defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.”
“The County will be ordering a forensic audit by an independent accounting firm and a review of internal controls, financial systems and policies,” said Miyasato. The Auditor’s Office and Public Works Department have been reviewing systems and operations since the alleged fraud was suspected. “The independent audit will provide us more information to further shore up safeguards and controls as necessary,” said Miyasato.
Further details are limited because this matter is under active criminal investigation.
Arraignment will take place on September 25, 2017 in Santa Barbara Superior Court