Case # 13NF2644
Date: April 24, 2015
TWO FORMER PARKS AND RECREATION MANAGERS CONVICTED OF PUBLIC CORRUPTION FOR EMBEZZLING OVER $1.3 MILLION FROM CITY OF BUENA PARK
SANTA ANA – Two former parks and recreation (PAR) managers for the City of Buena Park were convicted and sentenced today for public corruption and embezzling over $1.3 million from the City. Former PAR maintenance manager Rudolph Peter Juarez, 58, Anaheim, pleaded guilty today to 233 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds and four felony counts of filing a false tax return and sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing over $100,000 loss, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and property loss over $1.3 million.
Former PAR supervisor Gabriel A. Garcia, 42, Chino Hills, pleaded guilty today to 186 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds and four felony counts of willful failure to file or making a fraudulent tax return and sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing over $100,000 loss, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and property loss over $1.3 million.
Juarez was sentenced to 10 years in state prison and Garcia was sentenced to six years in state prison over the People’s objections. The defendants were ordered to pay over $1.3 million in restitution to the City of Buena Park and over $2.6 million in fines. Juarez must pay over $235,000 to the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and Garcia must pay over $89,000 to the FTB.
Circumstances of the Public Corruption and Embezzlement
At the time of the crime, Juarez was a PAR maintenance manager for the City of Buena Park and was responsible for supervision of maintenance of all public parks within the city. Garcia was a supervisor who worked under Juarez. The defendants were solely responsible for all time cards submitted to City payroll for their staff.
Between 2005 and 2011, the defendants embezzled over $1.3 million in public funds from the City of Buena Park. Juarez and Garcia submitted fraudulent payroll requests for maintenance or janitorial work to the City using the names of former employees, who had not worked for the City for months or years, or using the names of people who had never worked for the City in any capacity. The defendants set up personal bank accounts and had the direct deposit for the non-existent employees submitted into those accounts.
A majority of the landscaping work in the City parks are performed by an outside contract company. Juarez drafted a contract and wrote a provision that a third-party could perform landscape work, bill the contract company for that work, and then the contract company could bill the City for reimbursement. Juarez and Garcia submitted fraudulent invoices for work never performed to the contract landscape company using the names of unwitting people. They then had the payment on those invoices deposited into their own personal back accounts.
Juarez and Garcia committed tax fraud by failing to file taxes for any of the fraudulently-obtained $1.3 million.
The Buena Park Police Department received a tip about the embezzlement in 2011 and began investigating this case. The Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) Bureau of Investigation assumed the case as the lead investigating agency. The FTB assisted in the tax fraud investigation. The defendants were arrested Aug. 6, 2013, by the OCDA Bureau of Investigation.
At the sentencing today, Buena Park City Manager told the court that “Mr. Juarez not only stole a tangible item, but he tarnished the City’s reputation, and that of its hardworking employees. His actions gave the public a reason to lose faith in their local government. This distrust is not quantifiable and is perhaps the most egregious part of his crimes.” He added, “Not only was Mr. Juarez stealing from the residents of this community, he was stealing from his fellow city employees, in particular, Mr. Juarez’s subordinates.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit prosecuted this case.