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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 6th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 48 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 48

TurnKey hearings are continued to the spring

BY SONIA FERNANDEZ

Acknowledging the need for more information, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Brian Hill on Feb. 4 granted a general time waiver to the four defendants in the TurnKey embezzlement case.

“I think our hope was that at the conclusion of the restitution hearing, all parties would have more information,” he said at what would have been the sentencing and restitution hearing.

 However, due to ongoing audits, consultations, and changing numbers, the judge granted more time to prepare for the hearing to decide just how much former TurnKey Construction executives Harold Clark III, Michael Bannan, and David Irwin have to pay. The amount has hovered around $1.7 million, but even that could change, as documents recently reviewed by Hill suggest up to $2.3 million.

The next date in court for the three former TurnKey executives will be on April 30, for a status review; May 13 is a “hard date” set for the restitution hearing. Both are in Santa Barbara.

“We need to get this behind us,” Hill said of the long-running embezzlement case.

Charged with several counts of diverting construction funds while in charge of 16 construction projects within the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, Clark, Bannan, and Irwin pleaded no contest last March. They face incarceration and restitution to subcontractors.

The fourth defendant, Cynthia Lynn Clark, former Santa Maria-Bonita School District assistant superintendent, didn’t enter into a plea agreement. Clark, who is of no relation to Harold Clark, is also scheduled to appear in court at the same times and dates as the other defendants as she prepares to go to trial.

Just more than a decade ago, TurnKey entered into $62 million worth of contracts with the Santa Maria-Bonita School District to build 16 school projects. After a few years, however, TurnKey’s business practices came under suspicion, as the company fell behind in payments to its subcontractors. An investigation led to charges filed against the executives suspected of diverting funds. Cynthia Clark, who oversaw invoices and payments made to TurnKey during that time, is accused of knowingly participating in the embezzlement scheme, a charge she denies.