A former assistant superintendent for the Corona-Norco Unified School District who perpetrated an embezzlement scheme that resulted in more than $1 million in losses to the district pleaded guilty Friday to felony charges and was immediately sentenced to two years in state prison.

Ted Eugene Rozzi, 61, of Redlands admitted to using his position and his relationship to a local contractor to steer public funds toward his personal accounts between December 2011 and May 2017.

Along with the prison sentence, Rozzi was ordered to repay the district $1 million. Rozzi has until January to pay back the funds, which is when his sentencing hearing is scheduled for. He remains out of custody in the meantime.

Rozzi was initially charged with 31 felonies, but ended up pleading guilty to one count each of embezzlement by a public officer and misappropriation of public funds as part of a deal with prosecutors.

Charges were dismissed against his co-defendant, Edward Curtis Mierau, 67, of Ladera Ranch — a contractor who prosecutors alleged Rozzi hired to handle numerous projects as part of the scheme — following the plea deal.

“As part of his guilty plea, Rozzi exonerated co-defendant Edward Curtis Mierau, saying that Mierau did not know about the scheme and that Rozzi used his strong business relationship to take advantage of Mierau and his company, Neff Construction,” said John Hall, a District Attorney’s Office spokesman.

According to the prosecution, the investigation into the theft began after two CNUSD employees uncovered suspicious transactions involving Ontario-based Neff Construction, which specializes in school facilities construction and where Rozzi is chief executive officer.

Sheriff’s investigators were contacted after the school district conducted an internal review, culminating in a wider inspection of payment records, all of which were tied to Rozzi, who managed school district construction projects, prosecutors said.

He resigned his position in August 2017, following 25 years as assistant superintendent, according to CNUSD officials.

“We are angry and very disappointed that an executive-level administrator in our district would abuse his position of trust to manipulate our facilities accounts for his own financial gain,” CNUSD Superintendent Michael Lin said of Rozzi in a previous statement. “The school district will do everything legally possible to recoup any financial losses we have suffered.”

The D.A.’s office said the scheme that netted $1.1 million in ill-gotten gains for Rozzi stemmed from falsified work orders that the defendant arranged to have submitted to the district by Neff Construction. Rozzi essentially received payoffs from Mierau, who covered his end by billing the district for whatever he paid his co-defendant, prosecutors alleged.

“We took swift action by restructuring departments to add new layers of accountability,” Lin said regarding the fallout of the investigation. “We are committed to ongoing auditing of our practices and procedures.”

The real estate assets of both defendants, who have properties in Riverside, Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, have been frozen by court order, according to the D.A.’s office.

A portion of the $1 million restitution will come from the proceeds of court-ordered liquidation of Rozzi’s real estate holdings, according to the D.A.’s office.

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