Manuel “Ed” Torres | Credit: Courtesy

Retired Santa Barbara County deputy probation officer Manuel Edward “Ed” Torres, 67, was sentenced on July 6 to 11 years in state prison and ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution for his role in a massive embezzlement scheme spanning just over a decade.

According to the press release by Santa Barbara County District Attorney John Savrnoch, Torres pleaded guilty on April 27, 2023, to felony embezzlement for stealing $653,000 of public funds from the Santa Barbara County Probation Peace Officer Association (SBCPPOA, the union for county probation officers) between January 1, 2009, and June 30, 2019. Torres was the president of the probation officers union for more than 20 years while working as a probation officer for the county. 

Torres was first arrested in 2020 during an investigation into the union’s records following his sudden and unhappy departure from the union after being replaced as president. Interviews with former boardmembers revealed that Torres ran the union with “an iron fist,”  explaining that because of his long tenure “no one questioned him, challenged him, or doubted him…. Torres had carte blanche in all areas of the union.”

Following his retirement as a deputy probation officer for the county in 2019, the Probation Department contacted the District Attorney’s Office after a review of financial records of the probation officers union discovered potential embezzlement by Torres. The District Attorney’s investigation determined that Torres was stealing from the union’s bank account funded by personal union dues, taken out of each member’s paycheck, and then directly deposited into his account.

DA Savrnoch detailed in the press release that Torres was ordered to pay $1,072,654 in restitution to the union, and $328,345 in restitution to the California Franchise Tax Board. Additionally during the sentencing hearing in Judge Pauline Maxwell’s courtroom, the court-appointed attorney Marilyn D. Anticouni as receiver to take possession of the home residence of Torres, and to sell the residence to help satisfy the restitution order. 

DA Savrnoch praised the efforts of the Bureau of Investigations of the DA’s Office and specifically Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota for the investigation, charging, and prosecution of Torres’s case leading to a conviction. DA Savrnoch said in the press release, “The theft of public funds violates the trust that the people give their public officials and can not be tolerated. The hardworking people who make up the SBCPPOA deserved more from one of their own who was entrusted with their hard-earned money.”


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