My, what a cesspool of corruption the city of Buena Park is becoming.
First, it was City Councilman Miller Oh, who faces fraud and perjury charges. He has a motions hearing coming up on Aug. 23 and his trial is currently scheduled to begin Sept. 17.
Now, it's two former parks and recreation managers, who have been charged with public corruption for allegedly embezzling more than $822,000 from the city that Knott's built.
Placentia, Santa Ana and Huntington Beach must be so jealous!
Rudolph Peter Juarez, 56, of Anaheim, was the parks and rec maintenance manager responsible for supervision of maintenance of all public parks within Buena Park. Gabriel A. Garcia, 40, of Chino Hills, was a supervisor under Juarez.
They were responsible for all time cards submitted to city payroll for their staff. But between 2005 and 2011, the pair allegedly embezzled more than $822,000 in city funds by submitting fraudulent payroll requests for maintenance or janitorial work, using the names of former or non-existent city workers and setting up dummy bank accounts for the ill-gotten funds, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).
Juarez and Garcia are also accused of a similar scam involving city payments to a third-party landscaping contractor through phony invoices for work never performed, with the money also winding up in their personal bank accounts. To add crime to, uh, more crime, the pair is also accused of tax fraud for failing to report the $822,000.
Buena Park cops were tipped about the embezzlement in 2011, which led to an investigation with the state Franchise Tax Board and OCDA Bureau of Investigation that resulted in Juarez and Garcia's recent arrest.
Juarez is charged with 182 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds and four felony counts of filing a false tax return with sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing over $100,000 loss, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and property loss over $200,000. If convicted, he faces up to 195 years and eight months in state prison.
Garcia is charged with 129 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds and four felony counts of willful failure to file or making a fraudulent tax return with sentencing enhancements and allegations for theft over $100,000, aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, and property loss over $65,000. He could spend 135 years and four months in prison.
Juarez and Garcia are currently being held on $822,000 bail “and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond,” notes the OCDA.
They are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.