Two More Guilty Pleas in Theft of Public Works Department Funds

Two More Guilty Pleas in Theft of Public Works Department Funds title=
Two More Guilty Pleas in Theft of Public Works Department Funds
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Source: Santa Barbara County District Attorney

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced today that on June 27, 2018, Leanna Harada, age 43, and Michael Anzivino, age 46, pled guilty to felony charges of theft of public funds, forgery, and conspiracy to steal public funds. 

Mr. Anzivino also pled guilty to 6 felony counts of money laundering and admitted to an enhancement that alleged the theft exceeded $500,000.00.

  
Michael (left) and Vincent (right) Anzivino

Charges were filed against Ms. Harada and Mr. Anzivino in September of 2017, after an investigation by the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office determined that Lynn Hogan, age 48, an Accountant II in the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department, had been creating false invoices and issuing fraudulent checks over a 9-year period on behalf of several fictitious vendors including Ms. Harada and Mr. Anzivino, as well as others that Mr. Anzivino recruited into the conspiracy.   Those other persons: Wendy Puchli, Michele Lavin, Michael Elliott, Richard Kaplinski, Christina Huffman, and Vincent Anzivino were also charged. 

In total, 9 persons were charged as part of the conspiracy that resulted in a $2,051,470.96 loss to Santa Barbara County.  With the pleas today by Ms. Harada and Mr. Anzivino, the cases against the 9 persons charged have been resolved.

Ms. Harada and Mr. Anzivino will return on August 8, 2018 for sentencing at which time Mr. Anzivino will be sentenced to 13 years, 8 months in State Prison, and be ordered to pay $2,051,470.96 in restitution to Santa Barbara County.

Ms. Harada will be sentenced to 5 years’ probation, 270 days in County Jail, and ordered to pay $54,600.00 in restitution to Santa Barbara County. 

Ms. Hogan previously pled guilty to felony charges of theft of public funds, forgery, and conspiracy to steal public funds and was sentenced on June 6, 2018 to 9 years, 8 months in State Prison, and was ordered to pay $2,051,470.96 in restitution to Santa Barbara County. 

Additionally, pursuant to California Government Code section 7522.72, Ms. Hogan forfeits all her retirement benefits from the County of Santa Barbara earned or accrued from May 27, 2008 to July 25, 2017.

Michelle Lavin, age 58, pled guilty on May 30, 2018 to felony charges of theft of public funds, forgery, and conspiracy to steal public funds and will be sentenced on July 11, 2018 to 5 years in State Prison, and be ordered to pay $311,918.07 in restitution to Santa Barbara County.

Wendy Puchli, age 50, pled guilty on June 13, 2018 to felony charges of theft of public funds, forgery, and conspiracy to steal public funds and will be sentenced on August 8, 2018 to 6 years in State Prison, and be ordered to pay $426, 063.88 in restitution to Santa Barbara County.

Christina Huffman pled guilty on May 20, 2018 to felony charges of theft of public funds, forgery, and conspiracy to steal public funds and will be sentenced on July 18, 2018 to 5 years’ probation, 180 days in County Jail, and be ordered to pay $28,517.50 in restitution to Santa Barbara County.

Michael Elliott, who cashed a fraudulent check in 2012 for $10,421.00 will make full restitution to Santa Barbara County and the charges against him will be dismissed.

Because of evidence that they may have been unwitting accomplices in the conspiracy, the charges against Richard Kaplinski and Vincent Anzivino were dismissed.

According to District Attorney Joyce Dudley, “The successful prosecution of this case would not have been possible without the cooperation of multiple Santa Barbara County departments, the thorough and rigorous investigation of Supervising District Attorney Investigator Chris Clement and the excellent leadership of Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota. This theft was a direct assault upon the People of Santa Barbara County. It is my hope that this timely disposition and the ensuing state prison sentences will send a clear message to others.”

 

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TomTomTomTom Jun 28, 2018 08:34 AM
Two More Guilty Pleas in Theft of Public Works Department Funds

Dont they know the best way to steal public funds is to call yourself a "consultant"? Or if you happen to be an attorney, just file a few dozen suits. The County rolls over on practically every claim and judges have no problems with okaying your $1000 an hour charges... If you're going to steal, do it right!

Factotum Jun 27, 2018 10:04 PM
Two More Guilty Pleas in Theft of Public Works Department Funds

They take a lot more public loot every time they meet at the collective bargaining table and that is done in front of our very eyes. This is peanuts compared to what we willingly give away to the county employees every day.

Factotum Jun 27, 2018 05:59 PM
Two More Guilty Pleas in Theft of Public Works Department Funds

Civil service is a sacred trust. Hire the best, pay them well. Fire immediately and strip all benefits from any who betray this trust. Award employment benefits only at the end of dutiful and unblemished service. Choose to work for the government only with all of this in mind. It is a very unique form of employment.

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