A 47-year-old California woman has been charged with embezzling over $200,000 from the Lamont Public Utility District. The charges were announced during a press conference by the Kern County District Attorney's Office on April 25.
According to court documents, the defendant worked as an office manager for the district, and she came under scrutiny when a district board member noticed a suspicious credit union statement on her desk. An investigation discovered that more than $228,000 in LPUD funds went missing between 2010 and 2013. A warrant issued in January showed that three LPUD employees were targeted in the investigation, but the district attorney only charged the defendant.
The defendant is facing one felony count of theft of public funds, one felony count of grand theft and one felony count of making false entries into a public account. If convicted, she could face up to six years in prison. Authorities indicated the investigation is over. No one else is expected to be charged.
Individuals who learn that they are being investigated for this type of white collar crime may wish to seek the representation of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Legal counsel could protect the client's rights throughout the investigation process and act as a liaison between theclient and investigators. If criminal charges are filed, the attorney could examine the evidence for details that could be used in a defendant's favor. For example, not all accounting discrepancies are embezzlement. In some cases, they could simply be accounting errors. Even if the evidence against a defendant is strong, an attorney could negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors that reduces the charges and penalties.
Source: Kern Golden Empire, "Lamont Public Utility District employee charged with embezzlement", Suzanne Sullivan, April 25, 2017