Embezzlement case: District sues former official over 'gift' of Menlo Park home | June 26, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - June 26, 2013

Embezzlement case: District sues former official over 'gift' of Menlo Park home

by Dave Boyce

The San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District has sued the district's former finance director alleging that, after she pleaded no contest to embezzlement charges involving more than $450,000 but before a judge determined what she owes as restitution, she improperly divested herself of the ownership of a house at 1311 Henderson Ave. in Menlo Park.

Former finance director Jo Ann Dearman (aka Jo Ann Seeney) pleaded no contest on April 17 to five counts each of felony embezzlement and felony embezzlement of public funds, prosecutors said. She is free on a $250,000 bail, but faces a maximum of seven years in state prison. Sentencing is set for July 19. The length of her prison term depends in part on how much restitution she makes to the mosquito control district ahead of her sentencing hearing, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

In a June 11 court filing, the mosquito control district's attorneys, Paul E. Gaspari and John P. Christian, alleged fraud and conspiracy to defraud by Ms. Dearman, 62, and by a woman who county attorneys believe to be her sister, co-defendant Billie Jean Dearman. On April 30, two weeks after her plea agreement, Jo Ann Dearman transferred ownership of the house to Billie Jean Dearman by means of a quitclaim deed, essentially a gift.

The San Mateo County Treasurer-Tax Collector set the assessed value of the house at $271,000 in 2012, according to the agency's online database.

When Ms. Dearman was hired by the district in 2008, she had a criminal record that included an embezzlement conviction in connection with a previous employer, prosecutors said. She reportedly took medical leave from the district to serve time in prison.

Over a two-year period at the mosquito control district, Ms. Dearman and her bookkeeping assistant Vika Sinipata embezzled over $450,000 by giving themselves extra pay, raising their rate of pay, taking "fraudulent" time off, channeling excessive contributions to deferred compensation funds, and using district credit cards for personal purchases and electronic transfers into their own accounts, prosecutors said.


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