Karen Flores allegedly began stealing from the city in 2006, according to the criminal complaint, and is charged with grand theft by embezzlement, destroying parking citations, filing false income tax returns from 2007 to 2010, and the felony of public officer crime, which applies to people responsible for safekeeping public money.
Flores’ attorney, Dan Murphy, has been requesting continuances so his own expert can review the audit and prepare a report.
The expert apparently is leaving for three weeks of vacation, so the next court hearing was scheduled for March 29, Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota said.
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Clifford Anderson was reluctant to agree to the continuance, and said it would be the last one, Cota said.
Flores worked in the Police Department’s business office for 22 years, and assumed responsibility for parking-citation collection — where the money was taken from — after her supervisor’s position was eliminated in 2004 to save money.
The City Council approved bringing back the business manager position last year.
The city Finance Department discovered financial discrepancies and launched an investigation into Flores, who was arrested and charged in August 2011. She has pleaded not guilty.
Santa Barbara has insurance to cover all employees who handle cash, and it appears the insurance would cover the amount allegedly embezzled by Flores.
The forensic audit was authorized by the insurance company so it would have an independent record of what the city was claiming, Cota said.
It’s unclear if the insurance company has paid the city, or if the payment would be dependent on the criminal case.
Officials with the city did not return requests for comment Friday, since City Hall was closed for a furlough day.