A former Pasadena city employee and a contractor were convicted Tuesday of charges stemming from the embezzlement of millions of dollars from the city.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus ordered Danny R. Wooten, a 55-year-old former management analyst for Pasadena’s Public Works Department, and Tyrone E. Collins, 59, to be taken into custody following the jury’s verdict in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
Jurors found Wooten guilty of 53 felony counts, including embezzlement by a public or private officer, misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest.
Wooten was acquitted of four counts of conflict of interest and one count each of embezzlement by a public or private officer and public officer crime.
Collins was convicted of 10 felony counts each of embezzlement by a public or private officer and misappropriation of public funds.
Jurors also found true allegations against both men that more than $500,000 belonging to the city of Pasadena was taken.
The two are due back in court for sentencing Jan. 11.
Wooten could face up to 24 years in state prison, while Collins could face 15 years behind bars, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Wooten’s attorney, Carey Caruso, asked the judge to allow his client to be placed on electronic monitoring and to remain free while awaiting sentencing. He told the judge that it was a “financial crime” and that his client had never failed to make an appearance for nearly four years as the case has made its way through the court system.
Collins’ attorney, Floyd Aragon, also asked for his client to remain out of custody while awaiting sentencing.
Deputy District Attorney Bjorn Dodd cited the “seriousness of the crimes” and a “repeated pattern of conduct.”
In ordering the two to be taken into custody, the judge noted that they are potentially facing “significant state prison sentences.” The judge noted that the amount of losses to the city is “higher than $500,000” and is “in the millions,” and that any kind of restitution the two defendants could pay will be an important factor.
Wooten worked for the city’s Public Works Department, which was in charge of moving the city’s utility lines underground. He created false invoices for the program and stole roughly $3.5 million, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
He funneled some of the stolen money to Collins, who owns Collins Electric, according to the prosecutor.
The embezzlement was discovered in 2014 after the city ordered an audit, authorities said.
Wooten — who had worked for the city for 12 years — was fired for “personnel matters unrelated to the investigation,” according to the city.
Pasadena city officials announced in January 2016 that the city had received $5 million from its insurance carrier to settle a claim involving the alleged embezzlement. The payment represented the maximum amount of money that can be paid in connection with the insurance claim filed by the city, they said.
The city has undergone a comprehensive internal financial and personnel audit, changed or increased oversight for many of its financial processes and initiated most of the recommendations announced by a citizen advisory task force on financial administration and internal controls, city officials said then.
“The city will continue to pursue legal means necessary to obtain a full recovery of the monies stolen,” City Attorney/City Prosecutor Michele Beal Bagneris said in January 2016.
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