SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A former Santa Barbara city employee pleaded no contest to embezzling more than $600,000 from the city Monday.
Karen Flores stole $609,000 over seven years from the city's parking citation fund. She was arrested in 2011, but investigators just recently figured out how much money she took.
Prosecutors told NewsChannel 3 Flores was a trusted employee who knew the most about the parking citation system. Prosecutors also said Flores started destroying parking tickets once city officials began closing loopholes to prevent theft.
City officials started looking into the financial records for the parking citation account years ago. Prosecutors said Flores told city leaders records for the account have never added up correctly.
Before Flores was arrested, city officials created a committee of staffers to look for ways to prevent theft from the account. But, Flores was on the special committee. Prosecutors told NewsChannel 3 Flores attempted to steer the committee away from implementing accounting practices that would prevent undetected theft.
Flores is scheduled to be sentenced August 22nd. She faces up to 16 years behind bars. Flores remains free until her sentencing.