Thursday brought separate theft charges against a Huntington Beach Police Department detective and an Orange County District Attorney's Office employee.
The more comical case is the one against cop Mario Ricci, who literally got caught with his hand in the cookie jar—if by cookie jar you mean envelope holding police employee donations for a colleague's retirement gift.
The more serious case in terms of potential time behind bars is the one against the OCDA attorney clerk Adrienne Reyes, who could get up to six years and hour months in county jail if the 38-year-old Brea resident is convicted of the felony and misdemeanor counts against her.
Reyes, who as of 2013 earned a base salary of $43,805 and total compensation of $71,468, was on medical leave between Nov. 1, 2014, and March 31, 2016, when she failed to report OCDA catastrophic leave donations to the Orange County Social Service Agency (SSA), which was paying her welfare benefits, according to prosecutors. (Catastrophic leave donations are made by employees from their accrued vacation and sick time to colleagues with serious illnesses but have used up their own vacation and sick time.)
Disability payments from a private insurance company policy paid for by the Orange County Employees Association were also not reported by Reyes, who did inform the SSA of a tax return check she received while stopping welfare payments (but continuing to request food stamps), the OCDA alleges.
Last May, Reyes re-applied for welfare checks but did not report, under penalty of perjury, the catastrophic leave donations nor the private disability income, claims the OCDA, which accuses her of receiving $16,833 in cash aid and $9,604 in food stamps that she was not entitled to due to her omission.
When the SSA contacted the OCDA about the alleged fraud, prosecutors turned to the state Attorney General's office for direction on whether it could proceed with the case against one of its own employees. The California AG found it was OK for OCDA to prosecute the case before Reyes was charged Thursday with two felony counts of perjury by false application for aid and two misdemeanor counts of aid by misrepresentation. She has a March 10 arraignment date in Santa Ana.
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Ricci, 48, of Los Angeles, faces a misdemeanor count of petty theft and up to six months in county jail if he is convicted, according to another OCDA statement.
He allegedly stole the undisclosed amount of money from an envelope at Huntington Beach Police Department headquarters, where he was working in December. His fellow officers, who noticed the envelope was a little light on Dec. 8, documented the denominations and serial numbers of the bills inside the next day.
As Ricci was leaving the building on Dec. 15, he was searched and found to be in possession of bills that had been jotted down as being in the envelope, prosecutors allege.
He is due to be arraigned March 6 in Westminster.