Public Works Accountant Arrested for Embezzlement

Update by District Attorney of Santa Barbara
September 25, 2017

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced today that the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office filed a 27-count complaint (attached) on Friday against Lynn Gay Hogan, Wendy Sue Puchli, Michelle Louise Lavin, Richard Edward Kaplinski, Jr., Vincent Ray Anzivino, Michael Elliott, Christina Huffman, Leanna Yumiko Harada, and Michael Edward Anzivino. This complaint is stemming from the investigation into the misappropriation of Santa Barbara County funds and the subsequent arrests of the above individuals.

Arraignment on the complaint will take place today in Department 8 of the Santa Barbara Superior Court.

Source: District Attorney of Santa Barbara
September 21, 2017

District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced today that Lynn Hogan, an accountant for the Public Works Department of the County of Santa Barbara, was arrested by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Investigators on charges of misappropriation of approximately $1,700,000.00 of public funds, forgery, and conspiracy. 

This arrest, and the others mentioned below, was made as a result of an investigation conducted by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.  

Although none of the other arrestees were employed by Santa Barbara County, also arrested on the same charges were: Michele Lavin, Leanna Harada, Christina Huffman, Michael Anzivino, and Vincent Anzivino, all from Santa Barbara or Ventura Counties, and Wendy Puchili a resident of Wyoming, along with Richard Kaplinski who is now residing in Merced, California.  

Additionally, an arrest warrant, alleging the same charges, was issued for Michael Elliott, a resident of Pennsylvania.

All those arrested are being held on $550,000 bail, except Kaplinski and Harada, who are being held on $475,000 bail.   

The District Attorney’s Office will be filing a Complaint in this case with arraignment to follow on September 25, 2017 in Department 8 of the Santa Barbara Superior Court.

County Statement in Response to Arrests

Source: County of Santa Barbara
September 21, 2017

Today, District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced the arrest of several individuals for alleged theft of public funds.  One of the individuals is employed by the County of Santa Barbara. Lynn Hogan is a senior level accountant in the Public Works Department, who has been employed by the County since 1988. 

The arrests follow several months of investigation by the District Attorney’s Office after the County’s Auditor-Controller’s Office noticed suspicious activity in July and attempts to bypass internal control processes. Shortly thereafter, the Auditor referred the matter to the District Attorney’s Office for investigation.

The alleged fraud potentially involves diversion of about $1.7 million cumulatively over many years from various funds in the Public Works Department. While the precise amount of the alleged theft is still under investigation, losses due to employee malfeasance are covered by the County’s insurance. According to County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato, the County will be working with its insurer on a claim for recovery of funds in an effort that no public funds will be lost.

“We recognize the trust placed by those we serve; it’s a significant responsibility that we take very seriously,” said Joan Hartmann, Chair of the Board of Supervisors.  “We are committed to being responsible stewards of public funds to ensure no one can defraud our residents and taxpayers, or this organization. Staff will continue to fully cooperate with the District Attorney’s Office in its investigation.”

Since it was discovered, the Auditor-Controller and Public Works Director have been working with the District Attorney’s office, according to Miyasato.

“We will get to the bottom of this and ensure there is full accountability for those responsible,” said Miyasato. “We are aware that a criminal charge is an accusation, and any defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

“The County will be ordering a forensic audit by an independent accounting firm and a review of internal controls, financial systems and policies,” said Miyasato. The Auditor’s Office and Public Works Department have been reviewing systems and operations since the alleged fraud was suspected. “The independent audit will provide us more information to further shore up safeguards and controls as necessary,” said Miyasato.

Further details are limited because this matter is under active criminal investigation.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. Who out there thinks that the insurance company will really reimburse the County for all of these losses? First there are the stolen funds, then there is the staff time to review all of the records at an average of $150/hr, then they are hiring a consultant to make sure the records are reviewed correctly. Then there is the DAs time to prosecute the defendants, and the County jail costs to incarcerate them. And then the insurance company will jack up their rates because now they know the County isn’t smart enough to keep track of their own spending. And I believe the defendant can retire and collect her pension without any problems. Next time they ask for a tax increase, just remember how well they have taken care of your money that they already have.

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