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Compton Loses $3.7 Million to Embezzlement

At the risk of paying too much attention to the Southern California area, I’m blogging about a new parking-related financial disaster coming from the city of Compton. The Los Angeles Times reports that a Compton city employee embezzled almost $4 million, including parking ticket money, from the city by changing totals on deposit records.

Former deputy city treasurer, Salvador Galvan, allegedly stole between $200 to $8,000 a day. He started working for the city in 1994, but the thefts began in 2010 when economic factors, according to Galvan, forced him to take drastic measures to help his family.

The losses were small enough, federal prosecutors said, that they didn’t trigger alarm for years, but fellow employees privately wondered how he could afford a new Audi and other upscale expenses on a $60,000 salary.

City watchdogs are in an uproar over how this theft was not discovered sooner. Galvan’s co-workers were suspicious of his lifestyle, but only one looked at the numbers and discovered a $7,000 discrepancy between receipts and deposit records.

“I’m disappointed,” said Compton community activist William Kemp. “This went on for years. What were the checks and balances that he could pull something like this off? Was he alone? Did he have help? And what procedures have been put in place that the next man don’t do this going forward?”

Questions about checks and balances are worth asking, because a loss on this scale points to a setting where absolutely no oversight is in place. I’m wondering if Galvan’s supervisors and city accountants will be forced to accept some responsibility for allowing this crime to be perpetrated.

Galvan faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, which doesn’t seem like much to me.

Read the rest of the article here.

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