Charges Dismissed Against One Defendant in $6.4 Million City Embezzlement Case

Published : Friday, March 9, 2018 | 6:44 PM

Charges were dismissed Friday against Melody Jenkins, 49, one of three arrested in 2014 in connection with an alleged embezzlement scheme which bilked the City of Pasadena out of $6.4 million.

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said it was found there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the case against Jenkins.

Prosecutors originally said that co-defendant Danny R. Wooten, 54, the accused mastermind of the alleged embezzlement, had given more than $40,000 in stolen city funds to Jenkins, who was a temporary Pasadena city employee.

Jenkins was arrested on December 30, 2014, the same day as Wooten and a third man, Tyrone E. Collins, now 58. Jenkins was charged with one felony count each of embezzlement by a public or private officer, public officer crime and grand theft of personal property.

Charges have not been dropped against either Wooten or Collins.

Wooten is charged with 20 felony counts each of embezzlement by a public or private officer and public officer crime, along with 19 felony counts of conflict of interest. He is being held in lieu of $1.75 million bail.

Collins, who owned Collins Electric, is charged with 10 felony counts each of embezzlement by a public or private officer and public officer crime. Prosecutors allege that Wooten directed more than $2 million to Collins, who was ordered to remain jailed in lieu of $900,000 bail.

If convicted, Wooten could face up to 28 years in prison. Collins could face 18 years behind bars.

Wooten was a management analyst with the Public Works Department when the alleged embezzlement scheme came to light after City employees noticed accounting irregularities in May 2014.

Earlier that year, in March, Wooten had been placed on administrative leave for an unrelated matter. His alleged criminal financial activity was discovered on his computer hard drive during the following summer after questions were raised in a City Council subcommittee about the fund Wooten managed, according to an insurance claim later filed by the City.

Wooten was then officially terminated on July 25, 2014, but due to reasons unrelated to the embezzlement investigation, city officials explained.

Further investigation by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office revealed more than $6 million had been stolen from the City’s coffers through the scheme that Wooten allegedly orchestrated for more than a decade.

For over a decade, Wooten allegedly created false invoices for Pasadena’s underground utility program, records of the case showed. A City audit found Wooten had reportedly submitted more than 290 fake invoices, to which he allegedly added digits to the dollar figures before claiming payments.

Along with the money that was allegedly directed to Collins and Jenkins, Wooten also is suspected of setting up bank accounts in his name and directing city money to two religious organizations where he was affiliated with, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

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