Manuel “Ed” Torres, a former supervisor with the Santa Barbara County Probation Department, was arrested Wednesday for allegedly embezzling more than $600,000 from the probation officers union he led for 20 years. Torres, 63, is currently booked in County Jail on 15 felony charges, including grand theft, misappropriation of public funds, forgery, and tax violations. His bail is set at $500,000, and he is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.
Investigators began looking into Torres’s personal finances in July 2019, following a phone call by Chief Probation Officer Tanja Heitman to District Attorney Joyce Dudley. Heitman had spoken with a deputy probation officer named David Silva, who’d recently been elected to replace Torres as president of the probation union. Apparently unhappy with the results, Torres had stormed out of the meeting and cut all ties with the board, and Silva said an immediate review of the union’s records revealed what appeared to be a large-scale embezzlement scheme by Torres over many years.
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