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Former County Manager Pleads Guilty to Misusing Public Funds

Brian Passaro Faces 60 Days in Jail, Three Years of Probation, and 160 Hours of Community Service


Friday, April 5, 2013
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The former chief of Santa Barbara County’s Mosquito and Vector Management District, arrested last year for spending public money on personal expenses, pleaded guilty to a single count of misappropriating public funds Friday morning. It was alleged Brian Passaro stole $11,426 from the small agency, which employs seven people and “controls and monitors disease-carrying insects, rodents, and other vectors such as mosquitoes,” according to its website.

Brian Passaro
Click to enlarge photo

Brian Passaro

Passaro — who has already paid back $1,310 of the money he took — entered the plea in front of Judge Clifford Anderson. He is facing 60 days in jail, three years of felony probation, and 160 hours of community service. But, if Passaro can pay $3,000 of the restitution by his September sentencing date, prosecutor Brian Cota said he will take away the jail time. If Passaro can come up with $7,000 at sentencing and the rest within a year, he can ask the judge to terminate probation early. “We want to encourage him to pay off the rest as quickly as possible,” Cota said.

The bulk of the money was spent misusing a county credit card over a three-year period. Though he made $95,000 a year, a report from Santa Barbara’s auditor-controller office showed Passaro used the credit card to make purchases described as “potentially excessive and non-business related,” including for alcohol, children’s meals, golf shoes, and hotel movies. It noted Passaro consistently failed to submit itemized receipts, instead reporting only total amounts he was later reimbursed for. The district’s credit card expenditures, it further noted, increased by 328 percent after Passaro came on board.

A report by the District Attorney’s Office showed he used the credit card to buy toys at Disneyland and pizza on Superbowl Sunday. By the time he was arrested in August 2012, Passaro had already moved out of the county. Passaro faced up to four years in prison, but his lack of criminal record and the relatively small amount of stolen funds factored into the plea deal.

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Hopefully, he will retain a criminal record even if the probation and jail time evaporate: any other public (or private) agency thinking of hiring him should be warned.

at_large (anonymous profile)
April 6, 2013 at 7:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I wonder who paid for the shirt he's wearing in the photo? This guy is clearly like his shirt. DOPEY!

rukidding (anonymous profile)
April 6, 2013 at 11:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I wonder if bank robbers will be offered a " repayment " plan ,,, what kind of a system are we morphing into?? I like the old system where you go to JAIL if you are caught stealing!!!

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
April 7, 2013 at 8:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I can agree, oldtimer, but we already incarcerate fantastic numbers of people, often for petty drug offenses, so it's too expensive...wanna raise more taxes for yet more prisons??

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 7, 2013 at 8:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Just to be clear, this is not a "County" employee as the title suggests. It should read, "Former DISTRICT Manager...".

goletaguy (anonymous profile)
April 7, 2013 at 8:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It seems there is some type of " favored " treatment this guy is receiving ,,, no matter who he worked for.

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
April 7, 2013 at 9:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I never cease to be amazed when I read about public employees who think they won't be caught!

buckwheat (anonymous profile)
April 11, 2013 at 8:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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