Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bigger Than Bell: $6.4 Million Embezzled From Pasadena

How'd they get all that money past Burger Boy?
I'm telling you, the place is in some kind of crazy fiduciary mess. The Pasadena Unified School District and its missing Measure Y and Measure TT bond money was bad enough. But that was just the PUSD, and people had gotten fairly used to that. No school bond issue since 2008 has passed, and for some very good reasons. They just don't have a record for keeping track of the peoples' money very well.

But apparently it isn't just the school district that leaks dollar bills faster than a Bruce Inman water main. Pasadena City Hall is just as bad. And what we're talking about here is $6.4 Million in hard earned taxpayer dollars that somehow flew out those big green copper doors like so many fleeing bats. With an actual and highly compensated Pasadena City Hall management employee (and yet another leisure-time Pastor no less), the agent of its disappearance.

It is quite a story, and the Pasadena Star News broke it big yesterday afternoon. The article is called "Pasadena ex-employee suspected of stealing $6M in city funds; scandal larger than Bell case," and you can read the entire article by clicking here.

Here are just a few of the juicy details:

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s investigators Tuesday arrested a former Pasadena city employee and two other people suspected of using a City Hall slush fund to embezzle more than $6 million in taxpayer dollars over a decade.
Danny "Fingers" Wooten

Danny Ray Wooten, 51, a preacher, and a former management analyst in the city’s Department of Public Works, was arrested with Tyrone Collins, 55, and Melody Jenkins, 46, a onetime assistant to Wooten. The three are named in a 60-count felony complaint. The allegations include embezzlement, conflict of interest and grand theft.

The alleged public corruption scheme spans more years and involves a larger sum of money than the Bell scandal where officials were caught misappropriating $5.5 million from the city of 35,000 residents.

Beginning in August 2003, officials said Wooten allegedly wrote nearly 300 fraudulent invoices to the city on behalf of four bogus vendors. In return the city issued 189 checks totalling $6.4 million.

“Clearly, this is a complete breakdown of our internal controls that would enable that to occur over that length of time,” City Manager Michael Beck said Tuesday.

And then there is this cruel assault on human logic and understanding:

At a hastily called news conference Tuesday afternoon in City Hall, Mayor Bill Bogaard, joined by Beck, City Attorney Michele Beal Bagneris and city Spokesman William Boyer, said city officials would identify and repair weaknesses in its financial operations.

“I am confident, based on what I know about this case, based on my involvement in City Hall operations for over 15 years, based on my day-to-day working relationship with the city manager, that the city manager is well-positioned to deal with this situation and his executive leadership team is fully committed to help us recover a stronger organization,” Bogaard said.

Yeah, right. The very same dudes that were in charge of that afflicted city while Preacher Wooten allegedly smuggled $6.4 million dollars out of City Hall, and right under their snoozing snouts no less, are now going to fix everything.

Here is Danny Ray Wooten's wage and benefits profile, courtesy of Transparent California:


So get this. Danny Ray Wooten was making $131,621.89 a year with benefits included, but that apparently wasn't good enough for him. And the guy was a preacher, no less. Preacher Bling? It appears he could now find himself with over two decades in the pokey to consider that maybe he didn't have such a very bad deal after all.

Read the rest of the Star News article. It is some pretty stunning stuff.

The City of Pasadena just can't get weird enough
Peoples Republic of Pasadena?
Yesterday Frank Girardot, of Pasadena Star News fame, posted this picture on his Facebook page. Frank's implied question, illustrated by this photo, was something like: What is the flag of the Peoples Republic of China doing hanging in the Council Chambers of the City of Pasadena?

It is a good one to ask. A City Council Chambers is not a hotel lobby, nor a restaurant, or even an import car dealership. It is the place where the government of that city, under the aegis of this free and sovereign nation, takes place. Intermittently hostile foreign governments, especially those holding a trillion or so dollars in American debt and far too eager to further expand their influence, should not be represented in such a place of trust.

So what is the flag of the Peoples Republic of China doing there? Here are my 5 New Year's Eve guesses:

- The Chinese government has convinced the City of Pasadena that building the 710 Tunnel is in the best interests of both. It was a deal they couldn't refuse.

- Pasadena needed to peddle some bonds tout suite in order to deal with some of their huge pension driven debt problems. The flag is a show of gratitude to the buyer.

- The City of Pasadena has become an officially authorized vendor for Uncle Sam's Green Cards Inc., which are given to wealthy immigrants in exchange for $500,000 investments in things like the latest round of commercially dubious Pasadena mixed-use so-called green condo projects. The country that bought the most of these passes got to hang their flag in Council Chambers. China won by a mile.

- The PRC now owns enough of Pasadena for it to qualify as a dual citizenship city.

- The United States of America, hoping to pay off some of the $1.3 trillion dollars it owes to China, is handing over desirable California cities as debt payments. Pasadena now follows Arcadia in that category. If the PRC flag should show up in Sierra Madre's Council Chambers as well, then you will know that the deal is complete. The three cities will then be combined into a new governmental entity called Arcamadena.

If you have any better theories, please let me know.

We Wish Everyone the Happiest of New Years!

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

47 comments:

  1. Can I Get That Deal, Too?December 31, 2014 at 6:03 AM

    Dear Mr. Tattler,
    Inquiring minds want to know. Can I steal over $6 million from Pasadena AND keep my Platinum Pension, too?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pasadena is a very progressive city. I believe Mr. Wooten will receive a regular yearly stipend to help him with his rehabilitation. Plus he will be writing a column about his new journey for the Pasadena Weekly.

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  2. Are you sure he's keeping his pension? If he's convicted won't he be required to repay the $6 mil? Won't the other two also be required to reimburse the taxpayers? This is a tragic situation for the families of these folks. I don't expect any compassion for the perpetrators but take it as a lesson that wrongdoers may excape immediate detection, and in the end justice really does prevail (most of the time).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You mean there are more Parson Wooten's beneath the dome?

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  3. As far as the flag goes. Is Pasadena a sister city of Beijing?

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  4. Power corrupts, absolute power absolutely corrupts.

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  5. Oh give me a home
    Under the dome
    Where the checks they are writing
    all day
    Where seldom is heard
    A managerial word
    And no one gets by on their pay

    ReplyDelete
  6. Maybe there is an angle here for the next UUT Oversight Committee to pursue. Rather than looking at all the mind numbing numbers on City Hall's spreadsheets, examine vendors instead. Make sure they are all legit and actually exist.

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  7. 7:32,,,, You are good, you make me lol. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  8. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    Lord Acton

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.
      ~ Abraham Lincoln

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    2. Or, in this case, Pasadena's own press releases and news conference, the Star News, KPCC and sundry other news organizations and local TV. This is all a big conspiracy to ruin the Rose Parade for Mayor Bogaard.

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    3. That's true. It was ONLY $6.5 million dollars.

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    4. I think Mayor Bogaard might hear some interesting comments from the crowd on his Rose ride this year.

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  9. We're taught Lord Acton's axiom: all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believed that when I started these books, but I don't believe it's always true any more. Power doesn't always corrupt. Power can cleanse. What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals.
    Robert Caro

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I dunno. A mark of true power is the ability to keep secrets. And others will keep your secrets as well. When power begins to slip away, that is when people start talking.

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  10. I truly believe that all power corrupts. Such is probably the thinking behind every political film ever made in Hollywood.
    Elia Kazan

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  11. Here is the big question, at least for me. How can $4.6 million bucks go out the door to non-existent vendors, and nobody notices it? How awash in cash there Under the Dome? That is what is really shocking. And don;t those jackasses on the pasadena City Council actually look at the numbers? Every one of those hundreds of invoices was supposed to be looked at and approved by those guys. Standard City Council meeting procedure. Was Tornek napping? Masuda talking to his bookie? And what about the great Chris Holden? He was there the entire time? What was he doing? The Star News is right. This is bigger than Bell because it hows the rank incompetence of those running Pasadena's government.

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  12. Look at the condos running along Pasadena Ave. below Green. China is here in a big way, this will be a good place for the workers of the 710 tunnel to live. Wake up neighbors and get involved, you really can help do some good in preserving Sierra Madre.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is why Sierra Madre must fight.

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  13. Just when you think they have hit an all time low it gets worse.
    ARSCAMAEDNA is what we should rename Sierra Madre if these crooks and bums keep getting elected by an incredibly stupid public!

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  14. It would be quite appropriate for the People's Republic of China to have their flag hanging in Arcadia's City Council Chambers and if the trends continue we will see one in Sierra Madre's City Council Chambers too.

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  15. The City Manager of Pasadena, Michael Beck, needs to be held accountable and Mayor Bogaard for that matter. A few heads need to roll over this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All the members of the City Council who didn't review expenditures during the consent calendar as well. This guy ran 10 years of phony invoices past those supposed guardians of the public purse. It is really unbelievable.

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    2. Time to fire the City Manager. He's the top dog and thereby responsible...

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    3. Aren't City Council members personally liable in a situation like this? I am sure they would love to see the City Mngr fall on his sword.

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  16. In Arcamadena there will be a 6,000 square foot minimum for new building permits.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Mod, off the subject, the baby Jesus statue is missing from the town nativity crèche. Did you already report this?
    How sad!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is being looked into. Thank you for posting.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
  18. Call Judy Chu's Congressional office and ask if communism is good or bad. They won't say it's bad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judy is a big 710 Tunnel supporter. So is Holden. Kind of a litmus test, you know?

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  19. Isn't the planting of a flag the traditional way a country makes its claim to new territory?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dogs do something similar.

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  20. This is nothing new!

    It is my opinion that this has happened in our city also!

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  21. Pasadena isn't tiny little Sierra Madre where every check is approved by the City Council. Pasadena's City Council approves contracts and purchase orders, not check disbursements.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It looks like they just paid $6.4 million dollars for that luxury.

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    2. Financial oversight is for the little people.

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    3. Sorry 10:08. This from today's Star News editorial:
      "What will be the consequences for members of the City Council who blithely approved consent items authorizing payments to an East Villa Street church for electrical work that was never performed?"
      http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20141231/the-stink-at-pasadena-city-hall-too-strong-to-ignore

      Delete
    4. Probably none. That's right. No consequences. Some low level clerks and analysts, maybe a few project managers and perhaps a Director (if they're not otherwise held in high regard). But City Council? Nope. They'll order Oversight Committees be set up and an enhanced "fail safe" accounting system that will function adequately until an employee learns to scam the system. And they will...

      Delete
  22. Interesting.
    http://i0.wp.com/crowncitynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/wooten2-460x250.png

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  23. They're claiming innocence.
    Ex-Pasadena employee, alleged accomplices deny involvement in $6M embezzlement case
    http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20141231/ex-pasadena-employee-alleged-accomplices-deny-involvement-in-6m-embezzlement-case

    ReplyDelete
  24. Something smells according to Girardot: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20141231/the-stink-at-pasadena-city-hall-too-strong-to-ignore

    ReplyDelete
  25. New motto seen carved into the wall at Pasadena City Hall:

    "Blame The Help."

    ReplyDelete
  26. Good to see Mayor Bogaard in the parade today, waving and smiling just like nothing happened.

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  27. Mayor Bogaard has alredy announced he is not going to stand for re-election; he is not culpable for Wooten's embezzlement and the Mayor and Council are insured against citizens' legal actions so why shouldn't he be smiling? It'll tarnish what many consider a sterling run of leadership for a great City but he'll still be held in high regard and best of all, rich!

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  28. The city of pasadena is too worried about treating there employees poorly and not looking at where the real problem is!!! The money was taken from city hall, from a high paid bean counter, but somehow they will try and use this against the hard working enployees who try to keep the city proud. CITY HALL NEEDS TO CLEAN CITY HALL!!!!

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