Hanretty denies he stole from schools | June 27, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Schools - June 27, 2012

Hanretty denies he stole from schools

• Assets frozen by the court at request of DA's office.

by Renee Batti

Tim Hanretty pleaded not guilty on June 19 to six counts of embezzlement from the Portola Valley School District, charges involving the alleged stealing of nearly $101,000 to pay for a construction project at his Woodside home during his tenure as superintendent of the district.

Mr. Hanretty appeared in San Mateo County Superior Court with his attorney, Michael Markowitz, denying all allegations and enhancements, according to Karen Guidotti, chief deputy district attorney. The enhancements have been added to the felony charges because the alleged theft was an "excessive taking" — more than $65,000, she said.

On June 25, the District Attorney's Office requested that Mr. Hanretty's assets be frozen. The request was granted by the court, with no objection by the defense, Ms. Guidotti said.

Mr. Hanretty remains out of custody after posting bail. A July 18 date was set for a court review of his case, and his preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 16, Ms. Guidotti said.

In April, Mr. Hanretty was charged with three felony counts of misappropriation of public funds stemming from his tenure as financial officer of the Woodside Elementary School District. Both cases will be heard in court together, Ms. Guidotti said.

In the Woodside district case, the District Attorney's Office in April said it found no evidence that the misappropriation of funds was for his personal gain.

In an email to the Almanac, Mr. Markowitz said he and his client have no comment about the new allegations.

The embezzlement from the Portola Valley district allegedly began in December 2010, just months after Mr. Hanretty became superintendent and chief business officer of the district, according to a statement issued by Acting Superintendent Carol Piraino the night of June 15, soon after Mr. Hanretty was arrested.

Mr. Hanretty resigned as superintendent in late January after the District Attorney's Office launched an investigation in the Woodside district case. The Portola Valley district then hired an outside accounting firm to conduct a forensic audit to pore over its financial records.

Ms. Piraino said the audit revealed that Mr. Hanretty submitted six invoices totaling $100,926 for reimbursement from the district's solar panel escrow account at Deutsche Bank.

The invoices describe work allegedly done at the district, but "the contractor never actually performed any work for the District. Rather, he performed work on Mr. Hanretty's personal home remodel project. The amounts on the contractor's invoices to Mr. Hanretty exactly mirror the amounts that Mr. Hanretty submitted to Deutsche Bank for reimbursement out of the District's funds," she said in the statement.

Mr. Hanretty was hired as the district's business manager in 1999, and soon after was appointed business manager of both the Portola Valley and the Woodside districts under a joint-powers agreement.

In 2004, the two districts appointed Mr. Hanretty assistant superintendent — new positions for both districts — and he oversaw technology and human resources in addition to finances.

He took over as the Portola Valley district's superintendent in summer 2010, when his predecessor, Anne Campbell, left the post to become superintendent of county schools.

The charges against Mr. Hanretty related to the Woodside district stem from his oversight of that district's 2005-08 school modernization project. He is accused of taking out a loan of $2.6 million for the project, although the school board had authorized a loan for only $632,000. The alleged fraud was discovered last fall, when school district officials conducted an investigation to figure out why the district's debt was so high.