County Employee Charged with Taking $1.7 Million

Public Works Accountant and Eight Others Accused of Misappropriation of Public Funds

A senior level accountant with Santa Barbara County’s Public Works Department has been arrested, along with seven others, for embezzling $1.7 million. The county Auditor-Controller’s office had noticed suspicious activity in the books in July and also attempts to bypass internal controls. The District Attorney’s Office was notified and began an investigation that resulted in the arrest of county employee Lynn Hogan on charges of misappropriation of public funds, forgery, and conspiracy, the county announced today.

Arrested on the same charges are Michele Lavin, Leanna Harada, Christina Huffman, Michael and Vincent Anzivino, Wendy Puchili, and Richard Kaplinski; none are county employees. A warrant is out for an eighth person suspected of being involved, Michael Elliott of Pennsylvania.

Hogan had worked for the county since 1988, and the theft had occurred over many years. The total amount has yet to be determined, and County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato stated the county is working with its insurer on a claim to recover the public funds. A forensic audit will be conducted, Miyasato said, and both the auditor and public works have been reviewing financial operations to see if further controls are needed.

A complaint is in the process of being filed by the DA’s Office, and an arraignment is scheduled for September 25.

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