Former Portola Valley schools superintendent Tim Hanretty appeared in court this morning (July 31) to plead no contest to six felony charges, including embezzlement of $101,000 from the Portola Valley district, stemming from his work at that district and, earlier, at the Woodside School District.
Looking drawn and contrite, Mr. Hanretty accepted a plea bargain from the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office that could include up to four years in state prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Mark Forcum on Oct. 11.
Although Mr. Hanretty declined to comment after the hearing, his attorney, Mike Markowitz, acknowledged that his client had shown "incredibly poor judgment" in committing the crimes, but that he "fully intends to pay the full amount back."
When asked by a reporter how much that would be, Mr. Markowitz cited the $101,000 amount Mr. Hanretty embezzled to pay for construction work on his Woodside home.
Whether that will satisfy the judge is another question: District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the Almanac in an earlier interview that his office wants Mr. Hanretty to repay at least a portion of interest now burdening the Woodside district as a result of Mr. Hanretty's falsifying papers to take out a school construction loan for nearly $2 million more than what was authorized by the school board.
"He exposed the Woodside district to (a large) indebtedness, and (the district) has to make good on that," Mr. Wagstaffe said.
After the court hearing, Mr. Markowitz noted that his client had not stolen any money from the Woodside district, where he served for a number of years as the chief business offial. The district "got 100 percent benefit from that loan. ... There was no loss. The district got what (it) paid for," Mr. Markowitz said.
Karen Guidotti, chief deputy district attorney, said the probation department will determine the amount of appropriate restitution, and will present a recommendation to the court. The determination will be based in part on what the school districts request, she said.
With the plea deal, two of three felony charges stemming from the Woodside case were dropped; the remaining count was misappropriation of public funds. One of six felony charges was dropped in the Portola Valley case.
Mr. Hanretty, who remains out of custody after posting bail, had pleaded not guilty on June 19 to six counts of embezzlement from the Portola Valley district for actions beginning in late 2010.
He had resigned from his post as superintendent of that district in January 2012, after the DA's office launched the investigation into his suspected misappropriation of funds in the Woodside district.
As a result of that investigation, he was charged in April with three felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, which included the falsifying of documents that enabled him to take out the unauthorized loan. He soon after pleaded not guilty to those charges as well.