Monday, October 23 , 2017, 5:30 am | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 

Local News

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.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >