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Former City Engineer Faces Prison

Friday, September 9, 2016

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A former California city engineer faces nearly 14 years in prison for allegedly embezzling more than $500,000 over a three-year period.

Authorities recently charged 41-year-old David Rubira, a former assistant engineer for the City of Santa Clarita, with seven counts of embezzlement of public funds and one count of public officer embezzling for personal use.

If convicted, he faces 13 years and eight months in state prison.

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© iStock.com / AndreyPopov

The city's former assistant engineer was charged with seven counts of embezzlement of public funds and one count of public officer embezzling for personal use.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said that between November 2012 and April 2015, Rubira allegedly diverted surety refunds to fictitious companies he created. The refunds belonged to construction companies that completed city building projects.

His Arrest

The eight-year employee was first arrested May 31 as the result of an investigation led by Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Office, the city announced in a press release. The sheriff’s office said it received an anonymous Crime Stoppers call reporting that a City Hall staff member was stealing money, city documents reveal.

“Rubira admitted to the crimes during questioning,” according to the city’s release.

The City’s Audit

Following the arrest, the city enlisted KPMG US LLP to perform an audit of its internal operations.

According to the forensic audit dated July 25, during the period in question, Rubira had been in charge of refunding outstanding bonds being held in the city’s cash-in-lieu of bonds account. The city’s process allowed developers to submit to receive refunds following completion of work on public building projects.

For nearly three years, Rubira was alleged to have requested and received unauthorized payments totaling $533,571, according to the audit. Some 58 checks were paid out to seven different vendor names, including “Design Control”, “Sikand Engineering & Survey” and “Diamond Developers.” Rubira would allegedly deposit the unauthorized payments into one of five bank accounts he held.

To cover his tracks, Rubira was said to have manipulated city documents, requested checks for pickup and limited his email communications regarding the cash-in-lieu bonds, among other things, the audit alleged. Rubira is believed to have acted alone.

checks
© iStock.com / AndreyPopov

Rubira was said to have requested and received unauthorized payments totaling $533,571, according to the city's audit performed by KPMG US LLP.

The city terminated Rubira’s employment June 7. Rubira was not a licensed engineer, according to a review of California’s professional engineer database.

Hearing Set

Rubira pleaded not guilty to the felony charges on Aug. 22. Reports say he is currently being held in lieu of $675,000.

A preliminary hearing in the matter is set for Sept. 30.

New Controls

Meanwhile, the city said it has implemented new controls to strengthen internal procedures in the wake of the alleged theft, according to a news release.

“Our community has a high level of trust for our City and this action goes against everything our City has stood for,” Ken Striplin, city manager, said in a statement. “Our intent is to see that Mr. Rubira is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The city says it carries a $1 million fraud policy and should Rubira be convicted, the city could also pursue restitution.

   

Tagged categories: Construction; Criminal acts; Engineers; Ethics; Fraud; Government; Government contracts; Public Buildings

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