Santa Barbara public works employee arrested for embezzlement

An accountant for the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department was arrested along with seven others on Thursday for allegedly embezzling approximately $1.7 million in public funds.

In July, the county auditor-controller’s office had noticed suspicious activity in the books along with attempts to bypass internal controls. A district attorney’s office investigation led to the arrest of Lynn Hogan, a county employee, on charges of misappropriation of public funds, forgery, and conspiracy.

Arrested on the same charges were Michele Lavin, Leanna Harada, Christina Huffman, Michael Anzivino, and Vincent Anzivino from Santa Barbara or Ventura counties, Wendy Puchili a resident of Wyoming and Richard Kaplinski who is now residing in Merced. Other than Hogan, none of the other suspects are county employees.

Additionally, an arrest warrant, alleging the same charges, was issued for Michael Elliott, a resident of Pennsylvania.

All those arrested are being held on $550,000 bail, except Kaplinski and Harada, who are being held on $475,000 bail.

The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office will be filing a complaint in this case with arraignment to follow on Sept. 25 in the Santa Barbara Superior Court.