Karen Flores, who worked in the SBPD’s business office for 22 years, is now charged with taking more than $200,000, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota.
The Franchise Tax Board, which the District Attorney’s Office also brought in for the Montecito Motors case, was “very receptive to joining prosecutors in our county for cases like this so taxpayers can recoup the money towed to them, or the state,” Cota said.
He added that the tax evasion charges are a “great tool” in these types of cases for adding to possible sentences since people who embezzle don’t tend to claim that money on their income taxes.
The amended complaint also includes an alternative count to grand theft that is specifically targeted at alleged embezzlers who are in control of public monies, which carries a maximum sentence of four years.
The enhancement applies for having two related felonies concerning fraud or embezzlement of more than $100,000. Cota said this enhancement is noteworthy because of the realignment act.
Usually, a non-violent felony sentence would be served out in county jail instead of state prison, but this enhancement is exempt from the new laws. If Flores pleads guilty or is convicted by a jury, she would have to serve her sentence in state prison.
Flores already faces charges of grand theft of embezzlement and destroying parking citations. She was placed on unpaid leave after her arrest but no longer works for the city, according to the human resources department.
Flores pleaded not guilty to the original charges but will have to be arraigned for the amended complaint. The possible maximum sentence also has increased, from four years to nine years and four months. She is scheduled to be arraigned in February.