Fresno Caltrans manager accused of stealing from taxpayers

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A high-ranking state employee based out of Fresno is under investigation for stealing thousands of your tax dollars. (KFSN)

A high-ranking state employee based out of Fresno is under investigation for stealing thousands of your tax dollars.

CHP is investigating the employee for ripping off taxpayers for four years -- to the tune of more than $12,000 in fake travel expenses. And Action News may have caught her on camera, right here in Fresno, during one of her phony out-of-town trips.

As Rep. Jim Costa, (D) Fresno, cut the ribbon marking a new open segment of Highway 180, Caltrans administrators joined him on the scissors and in the audience.

Action News cameras caught one of those managers in the crowd here in Fresno, but even when she attended a ribbon cutting, her expense reports say she wasn't here at all.

In a search warrant Action News uncovered, investigators say the manager claimed she traveled to Sacramento the same day and asked the state to reimburse her. They say calls on her work phone also show she was in Fresno when she claimed to be out of town, and her key card was used at the Fresno Caltrans offices on other supposed travel days. The discrepancies add up to thousands of dollars in fraudulent expenses.

"It's appalling to see activity like this and attempts to embezzle money from the state coffers when we're so short now," said ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi.

We're not identifying the suspect because she hasn't been arrested or charged with a crime. But her Linkedin profile shows her career at Caltrans ended last month, just as CHP investigators served the warrant. Capozzi says the evidence against her looks strong, but there may be some explanations of the bogus expense reports.

"It may have been filled out by an administrative person," he said. "She may have just signed it, not paying attention to the dates and this may all be a big mistake."

State records show the woman earned a six-figure salary just last year, but temptation can reach even the highest levels, Capozzi says. He suggests each state agency should pay inspectors to prevent this type of crime.

"It may cost some money to have someone like that, but in the long run it may save us thousands if not millions of dollars," Capozzi said.

Action News talked to the woman's attorney Thursday afternoon. He says she retired from Caltrans last month and she denies all the allegations.

Caltrans wouldn't discuss the case beyond saying the woman resigned, and CHP investigators also chose not to give details beyond what's in the warrant.

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