Manuel “Ed” Torres | Credit: Courtesy

Manuel “Ed” Torres, a 67-year-old retired Santa Barbara County deputy probation officer, pleaded guilty on Thursday to a charge of felony theft of public funds for embezzling approximately $635,000 from the Santa Barbara County Probation Peace Officer Association between January 1, 2009, and June 30, 2019. 

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Torres also admitted the theft exceeded $500,000, the crime occurred while occupying a position of leadership, that he took advantage of a position of trust, and that the crime involved a taking of great monetary value. 

Torres was the president of the probation officers union for more than 20 years. The embezzlement scheme was discovered during the Probation Department’s review of financial records following Torres’s retirement from his probation post in 2019, the same year he was replaced as president of the probation union and subsequently cut all ties with it. 

Charges for the case were first filed in July 2020 after a year-long investigation by the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations. The investigation determined Torres was embezzling money from a union bank account that was being funded by union dues taken out of each member’s paycheck.

Torres had previously pleaded guilty on August 4, 2022, to eight counts of Filing False Tax Returns for tax years 2012-2019 and was awaiting sentencing on those charges, the District Attorney’s Office said. 

Torres will return to court on July 6, when he will be sentenced to 11 years in State Prison for the theft of public funds and tax charges. He will also be ordered to pay restitution to the union in an amount to be determined at that date and will have to forfeit his retirement benefits from the County of Santa Barbara earned or accrued from January 1, 2009, to June 30, 2019.


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