News

Former superintendent pleads no contest to embezzlement, other felony charges

Tim Hanretty faces up to four years in prison; restitution promised

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.

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"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.

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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.

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Former superintendent pleads no contest to embezzlement, other felony charges

Tim Hanretty faces up to four years in prison; restitution promised

by Renee Batti / Almanac

Uploaded: Tue, Jul 31, 2012, 11:02 am

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.

Comments

AMDG
Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jul 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm
AMDG, Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jul 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.


Timmy, I guess youve not been blessed - YOU'VE BEEN SCHOOLED!!!!


Leavenworth
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm
Leavenworth, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Tim, I'm glad you are accepting responsibility for what you did. Please issue an apology not only to the parents and staff of the district, but to the children as well. This could be a real "teachable moment. "


Michael G. Stogner
another community
on Jul 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm
Michael G. Stogner, another community
on Jul 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Wow that is quite a plea No Contest to six felonies.


Menlo Voter
Menlo Park: other
on Jul 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
on Jul 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Mr. Stogner:

you can bet with that plea they had him "dead bang" or he never would have plead. Obviously not a "real" criminal or it he would have done something to actually cover his tracks. Doesn't appear to be the case here. Someone that was probably normally a "regular guy" that gave in to the "dark side." Seen it before. Cryin' shame.


PV Parent
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm
PV Parent, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Yes, they DID have him "dead bang." He did seemingly try to cover his tracks---they had to get some of the proof off of a mirror hard drive, and they will never be entirely sure of how much money he took, as he mixed all of the various monies together into one big pot, with little to no accounting of what was spent where. As well, he didn't do it all in one fell swoop, he did it over the course of several years. I'm sure he was able to rationalize it to himself by thinking that nobody really would miss it, lots of wealthy people in PV, etc, etc.


tom94301
another community
on Aug 1, 2012 at 12:50 am
tom94301, another community
on Aug 1, 2012 at 12:50 am

I'm not aware of all of the legal subtleties, but I wonder if a guilty plea would have made it more likely for a judge to be more lenient in sentencing. It shows more contrition. The article states that "he looked contrite" ... but did he act contrite? Also, his restitution strategy seems minimalistic based on the circumstances.


Hmmm
another community
on Aug 1, 2012 at 9:48 am
Hmmm, another community
on Aug 1, 2012 at 9:48 am

Tim - was it worth it? The stress, the shame, the ruination, the possible prison time. Tell us, please - was it worth it?


Michael G. Stogner
another community
on Aug 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm
Michael G. Stogner, another community
on Aug 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm

What I'm surprised at is that 6 Felonies could result in no prison time and possibly no JAIL time.


you're kidding
Portola Valley: other
on Aug 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm
you're kidding, Portola Valley: other
on Aug 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm

No one knows how much he embezzled at all. There is much confusion, no receipts (and seemingly no interest in doing further investigations), and the wealthy here want to get it behind them. Not to mention the former superintendent who was his supervisor for many years (well two of them from both districts) are thrilled at a plea bargain and then no more investigation, the wealthy parents just write checks and both towns to get this ugliness behind them. Tim goes on to another unsuspecting wealthy school district somewhere and no one can give the full account when there's a plea bargain. So off he goes. There is no stopping a sociopath. "was it worth it?" "stress?" sociopaths don't have the stress of conscience--so this will be another couple months, he sells his house, moves on and no one hears from him again. It makes me furious that there will be no more investigation and if everyone thinks he stole no money from Woodside, that's just a sad statement. Go to the public auditor's report. No receipts people, no clarity, no real information. It's a sad day. In PV I just miss the giant Jack Loustanou who we lost recently--I keep thinking Jack would have never let this happen. Maybe that's wishful thinking--he probably couldn't have sniffed out a sociopath either.


Hmmm
another community
on Aug 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Aug 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm

To - you're kidding - what makes you think that he is a sociopath? Does he have a history of this type of behavior or similar behavior?


white privilege
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 1, 2012 at 8:50 pm
white privilege, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 1, 2012 at 8:50 pm

How do you get a slap-on-the-wrist sentence for 6 felony convictions? Look up "white privilege".


Menlo Voter
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
on Aug 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm

White privelege:

No. Look up "no prior crimes" and "sentencing guidelines." Also, please note, the judge can still sentence him to FOUR YEARS as a part of this plea deal. Keep your pants on.


Matt R.
Registered user
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Aug 2, 2012 at 9:59 am
Matt R., Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2012 at 9:59 am

What sucks here is that they have him on a bunch of felonies, and he'll get off light. The no-contest pleas mean no court case, and the county saves a bunch of money. Even if he does pay back the $110k, he's still left financial wreckage in two local school districts, and the consiquences of his "management style" will last for years and years. It's sad to think that his jail term could be shorter than the time it takes the two districts to actually recover from his deeds.

I urge everyone to write to the DA to express your feelings, no matter what they are, about the reported sentancing posibilities. Without input from the affected communites, the judge will make the best judgment he can, with limited perspective.

While going "no-contest" for the plea deal would be a no-brainer for anyone with an IQ that was a positive number, if even a small one, the fact that his operational style and actual acts vicitimized not just the districts but will be carried on the backs of childrel desever a judgement that is on the harsher end of the spectrum. If he buys 5 years (from a possibe 9 to 4) for the plea deal, that I could live with. If it's further reduced to 1 or probation, I'd be very, very unhappy. Do the crime, do the time.


you're kidding
Portola Valley: other
on Aug 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm
you're kidding, Portola Valley: other
on Aug 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm

to hmmmm.....well, he's been doing this for over a decade at both schools. He's been described by ALL who knew him as so charming and that "he would never do this" until it was proven, and as the definition says: "lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience." It's hard for anyone that does have a conscience to believe that others don't, but they really don't. Hanretty was in both districts for years and years. he was well integrated into the communities. The fact that his actions have not only impacted both these wealthy towns that will buy most of their way out of this, but he has devastated aides, teachers and other real people who will/have lost incomes as a result as will have to find jobs in an economy that is less than hospitable. He's known these folks intimately for years and that doesn't bother him at all. That's a sociopath. If he's not convicted of anything, there will be nothing to be reported in his record and he'll be able to do this again somewhere. It's just very frustrating!


Susan Smith
Woodside: other
on Aug 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm
Susan Smith, Woodside: other
on Aug 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm

How about all you armchair lawyers put your money where your mouths are and contribute a little of your time on a Civil Grand Jury? 'Might learn a little something about the bigger picture and the County certainly would benefit from your self-expertise in these matters. Human beings make mistakes all of the time. Violent criminals and those to whom recividism is a pattern belong in the American prison system whose population is now larger than the entire country of Canada, or the Contnent of Australia. Let's remember what the application of prison should be about, and who benefits most, as reservations for the few remaining spots are getting backlogged.


POGO
Woodside: other
on Aug 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm
POGO, Woodside: other
on Aug 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Susan Smith said, "...the American prison system whose population is now larger than the entire country of Canada, or the Contnent of Australia."

Notwithstanding the fact that the "Contnent (sic) of Australia" IS Australia, you should get your facts straight before you make such an outlandish claim.

There are about 2 million people in American prisons today. There are about 35 million Canadians; about 23 million Australians.

You were only off by more than a factor of 10.


POGO
Woodside: other
on Aug 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm
POGO, Woodside: other
on Aug 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Susan Smith said, "...the American prison system whose population is now larger than the entire country of Canada, or the Contnent of Australia."

Notwithstanding the fact that the "Contnent (sic) of Australia" IS Australia, you should get your facts straight before you make such an outlandish claim.

There are about 2 million people in American prisons today. There are about 35 million Canadians; about 23 million Australians.

You were only off by more than a factor of 10.


Menlo Voter
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
on Aug 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Damn POGO! There you go spouting FACTS again! ;-)


Hmmm
another community
on Aug 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Aug 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm

POGO - thanks for the info. Now, if I could just figure out what Susan Smith was trying to say...it's a head scratcher,after that first sentence.

I did understand this sentence:
"Human beings make mistakes all of the time." That's true. But most of us don't get arrested and indicted over those mistakes. I made a mistake at work yesterday. A mistake. I didn't commit a crime - big difference.

Perhaps Smith is trying to say that only violent criminals belong in jail? That's understandable. But what do we do w/the nonviolent ones whose crimes- er- "mistakes" affect many people? What about people like Boots Del Biaggio? I don't know what to do about people like him & Hanretty, but giving them freedom doesn't seem right, either. I wish we could make them pay their way through prison.


Hmmm
another community
on Aug 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Aug 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm

To you're kidding - thanks for the additional info. When I first read about the allegations, I thought, "Ah, perhaps an executive sociopath." He sure fits the description given the info you provided. There are many people invisible to us who are negatively affected by what he did, as you mentioned. The domino effect is terrible. I'm still watching friends who're victims of Del Biaggio and it's been heartbreaking to see the toll on everything - incl a severe toll on their health - that his actions have taken.


Just Sayin
Portola Valley: other
on Aug 4, 2012 at 8:43 am
Just Sayin, Portola Valley: other
on Aug 4, 2012 at 8:43 am

How come Tim's supervisor and sponsor is promoted and untouched? Even if his colleagues were not criminally complicit, surely the embarrassing lack of basic management controls and minimal accounting standards suggest they are unfit for duty. Does the emperor have clothes?


Just sayin' II
Portola Valley: other
on Aug 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm
Just sayin' II, Portola Valley: other
on Aug 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I agree with Just Sayin. Where was the oversight? Why are those people still in charge? What about the contractor wrapped up in all this? He didn't know what was going on? What about the board members? They had no idea? What about the former superintendent?


Just sayin' III
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Aug 5, 2012 at 6:37 pm
Just sayin' III, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Aug 5, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I also agree with Just Sayin. Let's keep digging and get to the bottom of all this. The only way to learn from our "mistakes" is to understand them. What about the contractor, the architect, the board members, the people still overseeing our district's finances. Let's get it all out in the open.


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