Published : Friday, January 11, 2019 | 9:14 AM
A former Pasadena city employee convicted for embezzling in excess of $6 million from the City was sentenced Jan. 11 to 14 years in state prison.
Danny Wooten, 55, was convicted on Nov. 6 of 53 felony counts that included embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds, and conflict of interest. He was further ordered to repay the city $3.6 million in restitution.
Codefendant Tyrone Collins, 59, was sentenced to seven years incarceration and ordered to pay $900,000 in restitution. He was convicted on 20 counts of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds.
Both were sentenced by Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus who said the case was “a tragedy for everyone involved. It’s a sad day for Pasadena and a sad day for the court.”
Wooten was convicted on 53 of 59 counts; so many that twice in reading the charges to the court, the judge became confused.
After today’s sentencing Mayor Terry Tornek told “Pasadena Now” that, “I think the district attorney did a good job in terms of articulating the damage done. I think 14 years is a long time and so is seven, but these guys did significant damage to the city, as I said to my staff, so I think justice was served.”
Pasadena City Attorney Michele Beal Bagneris was also at the hearing.
Both men have been in jail since their convictions, which came after three days of jury deliberation. They were dressed in light green prison smocks and handcuffed to their chairs during sentencing.
Employed in the city’s Public Works Department, Wooten’s specific charge was to move the city’s utility lines underground. His scheme entailed the creation of false invoices while administering the program. It is estimated he made off with some $3.5 million, some of which went to Collins, proprietor of Collins Electric.
An audit in 2104 blew the lid off the plot.
The city settled a claim with its insurer for $5 million in 2016.
Judge Marcus commented that there was “overwhelming evidence” the men were guilty and that Wooten, “masterminded the crime and induced others into crime.” He called the transgression one of “incredible premeditation.”
Marcus called Collins a willing participant and rejected claims he made in a letter to the court that he did not know such large sums of money were involved.
“You were not a dupe,” the judge told Collins. The defendant’s claim that he was a man of faith, the judge further remarked, “makes no difference.”
Marcus called the sums involved, “jaw-dropping” and observed that, while the city was compensated through its insurance policy, “No one can account for the stolen money.” Wooten, he added, must have spent it of his own account.
Wooten, he said, was “an all-purpose fraudster.”
The convicts have 60 days to appeal.