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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on April 9th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 5 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 5

Former county employee pleads guilty to misusing public money

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

The former general manager of the Santa Barbara County Mosquito and Vector Management District, Brian Passaro, pled guilty to a felony charge of misappropriation of public funds on April 5, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office.

Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota said Passaro was allegedly using a county-issued credit card for more than just work-related travel and training seminar expenses.

“He wasn’t following protocols by itemizing his expenses,” Cota said.

Instead, Passaro turned in totals for travel and training-related expenses that went over budget. Cota said that rather than questioning his expenses, the district’s board raised the credit card budget every year until eventually a flag went up.

Eventually an employee from the vector district reported the activity to the County Auditor-Controller’s Office. Upon auditing Passaro’s records, Cota said the controller’s office found more than $10,000 in non-work related charges tallied up from October 2008 until Passaro resigned in October 2011.

The district is in charge of vermin and pest control—i.e. mosquitoes, rats, bees, and wasps—in Santa Barbara County. It’s funded by a percentage of the county’s property taxes.

A press release from the DA’s office said the DA investigated the case further and uncovered that Passaro failed to record 56 hours of vacation time.

Passaro is expected to be sentenced in September to three years of felony probation, 160 hours of community service work, and 60 days in county jail, and will be ordered to pay $10,116 in restitution.