April 3, 2024
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Santa Barbara County accountant arrested over misappropriation of $1.7 million


Lynn Hogan, an accountant for the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department, was arrested on charges of misappropriation of approximately $1.7 million of public funds, forgery and conspiracy, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Sept. 21.

Also arrested on the same charges were Michele Lavin, Leanna Harada, Christina Huffinan, Michael Anzivino, and Vincent Anzivino, all from Santa Barbara or Ventura counties, and Wendy Puchili, a resident of Wyoming, along with Richard Kaplinski, who is resides in Merced.

An arrest warrant alleging the same charges was issued for Michael Elliott, a resident of Pennsylvania.

All those arrested are being held on $550,000 bail, except Kaplinski and Harada, who are being held on $475,000 bail.

Arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 25 in Department 8 of the Santa Barbara Superior Court.

Hogan works for the Public Works Department as a senior level accountant and has been employed by the county since 1988.

The arrests were made after months of investigation by the DA’s office after the county Auditor-Controller’s office noted “suspicious activity” in July as well as attempts to bypass internal control processes.

The alleged fraud involves the diversion of around $1.7 million over many years from various public works funds. The county intends to work with its insurer on a claim in order to recover lost public funds.

County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato said in a news release that “the county will be ordering a forensic audit by an independent accounting firm and a review of internal controls, financial systems and policies. The independent audit will provide us more information to further shore up safeguards and controls as necessary.”

She added, “We will get to the bottom of this and ensure there is full accountability for those responsible.”

• Contact Robert Shutt at rshutt@pacbiztimes.com.