A judge on Friday lowered bail from $1.75 million to $650,000 for a former Pasadena city employee charged along with two others in an alleged embezzlement scheme in which prosecutors alleged that more than $6 million in city money was taken over a decade.
At a bail review hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sergio C. Tapia II agreed that Danny Wooten’s bail should be lowered, but said he was “not inclined to go” down to the $500,000 bail requested by defense attorney Christopher Darden.
Wooten had been jailed in lieu of $1.75 million bail since his arrest Dec. 30.
Outside court, his attorney told reporters that he expected the bail to be posted within a matter of days and hoped that Wooten would be out of jail by Sunday.
“This was more in line with what I think it ought to be,” Darden said of the new bail amount.
The judge also ordered Wooten to surrender his passport, which his attorney said had already been done.
Wooten, a 51-year-old former management analyst for Pasadena’s Public Works Department, 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.
Tyrone Collins, 55, 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 millions to Collins.
Melody Jenkins, 46, who was a temporary city employee, is charged with one felony count each of embezzlement by a public or private officer, public officer crime and grand theft of personal property. Prosecutors allege that Wooten gave more than $40,000 in city funds to Jenkins.
Collins and Jenkins were each freed on bond last month.
Wooten worked for the city’s Public Works Department, which was in charge of moving the city’s utility lines underground.
Wooten is suspected of creating false invoices for the public works department’s underground utility program between 2004 and March 2014.
Along with the money allegedly directed to Collins and Jenkins, Wooten is suspected of setting up bank accounts in his name and directing city money to two religious organizations with which he was affiliated.
The alleged theft was discovered last year after the city ordered an audit. According to the city, the audit found that Wooten — a 12-year city employee — submitted as many as 296 phony invoices to the city.
Wooten was fired by the city July 25 for “personnel matters unrelated to the investigation,” according to the city
“I am immensely disappointed that one of our former city employees allegedly exploited his position and leveraged our internal processes for personal gain by stealing taxpayer money and betraying the public’s trust,” Pasadena City Manager Michael J. Beck said shortly after Wooten was arrested. “We will use this experience to reinforce our commitment to good governance through our policies and procedures.”
Wooten faces up to 28 years in state prison if convicted, while Collins would face up to 18 years behind bars and Jenkins up to four years in prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.