Sunday, February 7 , 2016, 4:36 pm | Fair 77º

Santa Barbara Police Administrator Accused of Embezzling $100,000 in Parking Revenue

Seven-month investigation leads to the arrest of Karen Flores, who has worked for the department's business office for 22 years

From left, Santa Barbara Deputy Police Chief Frank Mannix, Chief Cam Sanchez, Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte, District Attorney’s Office investigator Dave Saunders and Sgt. Paul McCaffrey brief the media Friday about the case against longtime department administrator Karen Flores.
From left, Santa Barbara Deputy Police Chief Frank Mannix, Chief Cam Sanchez, Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte, District Attorney’s Office investigator Dave Saunders and Sgt. Paul McCaffrey brief the media Friday about the case against longtime department administrator Karen Flores.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

A longtime administrator for the Santa Barbara Police Department was arrested Friday morning and allegedly admitted to embezzling $100,000 in parking citation revenues.

Karen Flores
Karen Flores

Karen Flores was a nonsworn supervisor in the Police Department’s business office, where she had worked for 22 years.

Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte said Friday that at the time of Flores’ arrest, she reportedly admitted diverting the revenue to her personal account.

There is no indication that Flores had any accomplices, and she was arrested and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail by investigators from the District Attorney’s Office. She is being held on $250,000 bail, and has been placed on unpaid administrative leave.

Deputy Chief Frank Mannix, who briefed the media at a Friday afternoon news conference, said that about seven months ago, members of the city’s Finance Department noticed a discrepancy and contacted police.

“They noticed that the revenue we were posting in the parking citation system did not match what was being reported in the general ledger,” he said.

Investigators were able to rule out computer and accounting errors, Mannix said, and with embezzlement the remaining option, police contacted the District Attorney’s Office. A team of investigators from the Police Department, the DA’s Office and the City Administrator’s Office began looking into the case and “ultimately, we were able to seize evidence that indicated the guilt of Mrs. Flores,” Mannix said.

“The very person we would rely upon the most to assist us in this investigation turned out to be our suspect,” he said, adding that the collection of parking citation revenues is “actually very complicated.” Fines double when delinquent and can be paid a number of different ways, with some money staying with the city and some going to the state.

“No one knew the system better than Mrs. Flores,” said Mannix, who added that she had been aware of the investigation because she was a member of the initial group informed of the discrepancies. Because of that, he said, Flores had changed her methodologies as accountability systems were checked and double-checked, making it difficult it to apprehend her. Eventually she left a trail of physical evidence, Mannix said.

The exact loss has yet to be determined, and the city will conduct a financial analysis to see how much was taken.

Mannix praised the work of chief investigator Dave Saunders from the District Attorney’s Office and City Finance Director Bob Samario.

“Without their help and assistance, a successful investigation would not have been possible,” he said.

When asked about first discovering the actions of the longtime administrator, “we were all shocked,” he told reporters, but added that the investigation was completed because of the integrity of the officers involved. The department had already implemented some procedural changes during the investigation and is continuing to evaluate.

“Ultimately, however, it is the integrity of the person that is the most important variable,” he said. “I’d like to assure the public that the department is doing the right thing, and we feel very strong about this case.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 08.06.11 @ 02:20 AM

Now we will see if this is the only corrupt employee of the SBPD. Let’s hope these investigators are also investigating the more serious charges leveled against Beutel.

» on 08.06.11 @ 01:28 PM

“The very person we would rely upon the most to assist us in this investigation turned out to be our suspect”.

SBPD should keep this in mind when investigating Beutel - if they ever do, that is.

» on 08.06.11 @ 07:48 PM

No wonder we cant find any gang members in town, how could these smart people in government not catch this under their watch..Ha..

» on 08.06.11 @ 08:36 PM

Didn’t they also arrest someone in the Planning dept for embezzlement?  I think both ladies had worked for the city/county for years..  is there more embezzlement in other departments?

» on 08.07.11 @ 01:14 AM

Disappointing of the SBPD, but three or more cheers for Bob Samario and Dave Saunders.

» on 08.07.11 @ 02:32 AM

Irrespective of SBPD’s failure to discover this sooner, it sure takes a lot of guts to try to steal from a police department. I wonder what else she’s been up to.

» on 08.07.11 @ 02:13 PM

Look at the picture in this article.  What is wrong with it?

Plenty.  You have a Police Chief who was hired for political correctness, given what many consider a bribe to come here, lost a significant lawsuit, and saw an explosion of gang activity with his soft approach to illegals and gangs.  You have a PIO who has directly countered fact (hired by the same PC Chief)on multiple occasions to defend PC positions by Council.  That is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Could this have happened under another Chief?  Sure.  It is the piling-on effect of continued problems with management in the department and hiring of “yes” men.

It is time for a house cleaning…...including most of the top brass in the department.  Don’t bet on it happening, Schneider is part of the group that helped bring Sanchez to Santa Barbara.

» on 08.08.11 @ 06:36 PM

Gangs are a result of many complex matters and not the result of police activity or inactivity.  They simply are.  There are even gangs coming out of Montecito.

If some of the commenters “hung-out” they might even be called a gang of __________ (fill in the blank).

Get out there and do some volunteer work to help . . .

» on 08.08.11 @ 07:28 PM

Roadaway, to say that we don’t have the capacity to reduce or eliminate gangs is totally unacceptable. If you want to accept the status quo - so be it, but most people are not going to throw their hands up and say there is nothing we can do about it.

Also, I can’t stand the hypocrisy of liberals lecturing other people to volunteer when many of them do not and are among the most stingy in their charitable giving. They are very good in requesting other people to pay for services they receive for free. So save your lectures and mind your own business.

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