Charges Dismissed in Pasadena Embezzlement Case

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Charges were dismissed today against one former city employee who was being charged in connection with an alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars from the city of Pasadena.

The District Attorney's Office cited insufficient evidence to proceed with the case against Melody Jenkins, according to Greg Risling of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Jenkins, who had been a temporary employee for the city, was charged in December 2014 with one felony count each of embezzlement by a public or private officer, public officer crime and grand theft of personal property.

When the case was filed, prosecutors alleged that co-defendant Danny Wooten -- who had been a management analyst for Pasadena's Public Works Department -- gave more than $40,000 in city funds to Jenkins, now 49.

Wooten, 54, and a second man, Tyrone E. Collins, 58, are awaiting trial in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

Wooten 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 and five felony counts of filing a false tax return.

Collins, 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 million to Collins.

Wooten is also suspected of setting up bank accounts in his name and directing city money to two churches with which he was allegedly affiliated, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

The criminal case involves allegations that more than $6 million in city money was embezzled over a decade.

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 underground utility program between 2004 and March 2014.

Wooten was fired by the city for ``personnel matters unrelated to the investigation,'' according to the city.

The alleged embezzlement was discovered in 2014 after 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.

Pasadena city officials announced in January 2016 that the city had received $5 million from its insurance carrier to settle a claim involving the alleged embezzlement. The payment represented the maximum amount of money that can be paid in connection with the insurance claim filed by the city, Pasadena city officials said.

The city has undergone a comprehensive internal financial and personnel audit, changed or increased oversight for many of its financial processes and initiated most of the recommendations announced by a citizen advisory task force on financial administration and internal controls, city officials said then.

``The city will continue to pursue legal means necessary to obtain a full recovery of the monies stolen,'' City Attorney/City Prosecutor Michele Beal Bagneris said in January 2016.

Photo: Getty Images

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