Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Former Finance Director For California Municipal Mosquito Control Service Pleads No Contest To Embezzling $450K

From the San Francisco Chronicle on 4/16/13:

No contest plea in Peninsula embezzling

Henry K. Lee

Updated 4:28 pm, Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The former finance director of the San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District pleaded no contest Tuesday to 10 felony embezzlement charges for her role in the theft of $450,000 from the agency.

Jo Ann Seeney, 62, entered pleas in San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City. She faces up to seven years in state prison when she is sentenced July 19.

"She's taken responsibility - she admits what she did," said her attorney, Geoff Carr.

Seeney and her assistant stole from the mosquito control district from 2009 to 2011 by giving themselves extra pay and bogus time off, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

The two also padded their deferred compensation funds with excessive contributions, used the agency's credit cards for personal purchases and transferred county money into their accounts, Wagstaffe said.

The assistant, Vika Sinipata, 36, pleaded no contest in February to 12 felonies, including theft of government funds, embezzlement and destruction of public records. Sinipata faces up to eight years in prison when she is sentenced at a later date.

The embezzlement was uncovered in 2012 when a report showed that the district's agricultural account had been overspent by $150,000. A manager disputed the finding, prompting a member of the agency's board to ask for records.

The board member took her concerns to the county counsel's office, which led to an audit showing more discrepancies, authorities said.

When the district hired Seeney in February 2009, officials didn't know she had been arrested less than two years earlier for allegedly embezzling $568,000 from a former employer, Foster City medical supply company ConforMIS Inc. Later, prosecutors also charged her with stealing tens of thousands of dollars from another former employer, Woodside general contractor Mark de Bibo & Co.

Even as those cases were winding through the courts, Seeney continued to oversee the mosquito control district's finances. She went on leave in 2011 and, later that year, she pleaded guilty in connection with the earlier cases and served time in state prison.

"She came out of prison kind of changed," Carr said. "And the interesting thing is, she's not an addict or gambler. It was done to support her family after a bad divorce years ago."

Update 1/28/14:

Jo Ann Seeney, now 62, was sentenced to eight years in prison and her then-assistant, Vika Sinipata, now 37, received a 4 year sentence.

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