What's good enough for Buena Park's lying ex-mayor is good enough for the city's embezzling two former parks and recreation managers: guilty verdicts in an Orange County courtroom.
In November, former mayor Miller Oh was sentenced to six months in jail after a jury had found him guilty of using a fake name and other phony information on DMV documents to avoid paying child support for two daughters the 50-year-old real estate developer used as "family man" props in his campaigns.
Orange County Superior Court Judge John Adams in Westminster also sentenced the ex-hizzoner to three years probation and ordered him to perform 200 hours of community service.
Today, former parks and recreation maintenance manager Rudolph Peter Juarez and supervisor Gabriel A. Garcia were convicted and sentenced for public corruption and embezzling more than $1.3 million from the City of Buena Park.
Juarez, 58, of Anaheim, pleaded guilty today to 233 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds and four felony counts of filing a false tax return and sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing over $100,000 loss, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and property loss over $1.3 million.
Garcia, 42, of Chino Hills, copped to 186 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds and four felony counts of willful failure to file or making a fraudulent tax return and sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing over $100,000 loss, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and property loss over $1.3 million.
Prosecutors objected to the sentences each received in a plea deal with the judge: 10 years in state prison for Juarez and six years for Garcia They were also ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution to the City of Buena Park and over $2.6 million in fines. Juarez additionally must pay over $235,000 to the California Franchise Tax Board, while Garcia now owes more than $89,000.
The pair were responsible for all time cards submitted to city payroll for their staff. But between 2005 and 2011, they 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. The managers also ran a scam involving city payments to a third-party landscaping contractor through phony invoices for work never performed, with the money also winding up in the pair's personal bank accounts. Each was slapped with tax fraud counts for failing to report their ill-gotten loot, which combined totaled $1.3 million.
"Mr. Juarez not only stole a tangible item, but he tarnished the city's reputation, and that of its hardworking employees," Buena Park City Manager James B. Vanderpool told the court at sentencing today. "His actions gave the public a reason to lose faith in their local government. This distrust is not quantifiable and is perhaps the most egregious part of his crimes."
Vanderpool added, "Not only was Mr. Juarez stealing from the residents of this community, he was stealing from his fellow city employees, in particular, Mr. Juarez's subordinates."