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8 Appear in Court on Fraud, Conspiracy Charges Stemming from Theft of $1.7M in Public Works Funds

Lynn Hogan Click to view larger
Lynn Hogan

Eight people accused of misappropriating $1.7 million in Santa Barbara County Public Works Department funds appeared in Superior Court Monday after the District Attorney’s Office filed a 27-count complaint alleging fraud and conspiracy.

Arraignment was continued until Friday and one of the nine defendants, a Wyoming resident, was not extradited in time for Monday’s hearing, prosecutor Brian Cota said.

Of the nine people arrested, one is a longtime county employee who works as a senior accountant in the Public Works Department, according to the County Executive Office.

The criminal complaint alleges that Lynn Hogan, 47, misappropriated public funds between May 27, 2008, and July 25, 2017.

She is accused of fraud and conspiracy, and also faces special allegations of excessive loss, since the estimated theft is more than $1.3 million.

The County Executive Office said in a statement last week that "the alleged fraud potentially involves diversion of about $1.7 million cumulatively over many years from various funds in the Public Works Department." 

Investigations started after the Auditor-Controller's Office noticed "suspicious activity" in July, the county said. 

The criminal complaint alleges that Hogan created fake vendor numbers and issued false refund checks to 10 people and two organizations in that 9-year period, and also deposited checks herself.

The checks were issued to: Wendy Puchli; Michelle Lavin, Leanna Harada, Mike Anzivino, Vince Anzivino, Christian Huffman, Harriet Orr, Mike Elliot, Richard Kaplinski, Jr., Ryan Council, Class Seven Co; and TVYFC, according to the complaint.

In 2015, Hogan “deposited falsely created refund checks from the county of Santa Barbara payable to TVYFC into a Tri Valley Youth Football Conference bank account,” the complaint alleges.

Hogan was arrested last week, as were: Lavin, Harada, Huffman, and the two Anzivinos, who are residents of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties; Wyoming resident Puchili; Merced, California resident Kaplinski; and Pennsylvania resident Elliot, according to the District Attorney's Office.

The other defendants are also charged with misappropriation of public funds, forgery and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Each defendant has different time periods for when they allegedly cashed the false refund checks, according to the criminal complaint.

Three of the defendants are also charged with public officer crimes: the Anzivinos and Leanna Harada, according to the complaint.

Monday’s arraignment was continued until Friday, Cota said, adding that Puchili did not appear in court.

There was also an own-recognizance/bail-reduction hearing Monday, and the judge released the defendants who were still in custody of the County Jail without requiring bail, Cota said. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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