Los Banos City Employee accused of embezzling $1,700,000 Dollars

August 28, 2009 7:02:19 PM PDT
A woman, who worked for the City Of Los Banos, is now under arrest, accused of embezzling more than $1,700,000 dollars in public funds.Mary Ann Jones appeared over video before a judge in Los Banos Friday, just across the street from City Hall, where she worked as a utility billing technician for more than four years. Police said during that time she stole about $1,700,000 dollars in public funds.

Cmdr. Gary Brizzee, Los Banos Police dept. Said: "There would be several deposit bags that would come in throughout the day from all the different cash registers. She would take those deposit bags, remove the cash, and started a process of replacing checks from other deposit bags to cover the missing cash."

Investigators said Jones spent the money on everything from homes to vehicles to vacations. The allegations have stunned the community, including one of Jones' former co-workers who attended the court hearing.

Geri Alves, former co-worker said: "To me personally it was kind of a shock. I just feel very badly for all the city employees and for all those who placed their trust in her."

Officers have already recovered some of the money Jones is accused of stealing. And during this hearing, the judge approved a motion that may allow prosecutors to collect more in restitution.

Hal Nutt, Merced Co. Chief Deputy D.A. said: "We filed paperwork for a restraining order to prevent her from dissipating any assets she might have."

The money Jones is accused of embezzling would have gone to utility accounts, not public safety or other departments that have recently suffered cuts. But City Manager Steve Rath calls the alleged theft despicable and saids several steps are being taken to make sure it never happens again.

Steve Rath, Los Banos City Mngr. said: "I think most important we've reclassified another position to a supervisor position that monitors those processes on a daily basis."

Jones is scheduled to make another court appearance next week. At that time she's expected to enter pleas to the charges she's facing. And the prosecutor has said he may ask that her bail be increased from $1,000,000 dollars to more than $1,600,000 million dollars.

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