A former state employee accused of funneling more than $200,000 in disability payments to herself while she worked for California’s Employment Development Department failed to show up in court Friday for arraignment, prompting a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to issue a bench warrant.
Karina Maria Valdez, 38, was due in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to enter a plea to one felony count each of embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds, perjury, identity theft and grand theft, according to Greg Risling of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Beginning in 2014, Valdez allegedly manipulated the accounts of people seeking disability benefits while she worked as a disability insurance program representative. She’s accused of routing debit cards with fraudulent information to herself and withdrawing roughly $215,000 over a five-year period, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
“People were relying on these payments and they were unwittingly taken advantage of by someone who was supposed to help them,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “I will continue to strive for clean government and rid corruption from public offices.”
The charges, filed last month, stem from an investigation by the Employment Development Department.
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