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Mosquito district theft mastermind jailed
December 14, 2013, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

Jo Ann Dearman

Vika Sinipata

Sentencing for two former mosquito district finance workers who embezzled a half-million dollars was delayed yet again Friday but a judge ordered the one defendant out on bail taken into custody pending the next hearing.

Jo Ann Dearman, who is also known by the name Joanne Seeney, has been free on bail for largely the entire time she’s been prosecuted and eight months since pleading no contest to stealing from the San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District. However, on Friday, Judge Jonathan Karesh ordered her taken into custody without bail after defense attorney Geoff Carr presented a $200,000 check toward her expected restitution order. Carr asked to hold off on sentencing until after that check clears and to also provide another $50,000 check.

The sentence for Dearman, 62, is expected to be predicated largely on how much she can repay toward the hundreds of thousands taken.

Friday’s court actions were just the latest unique twist to getting Dearman and co-defendant Vika Sinipata, 37, sentenced. In November, Carr even agreed to surrender his client as long as it was after the Thanksgiving holidays but Karesh declined. The newly scheduled Jan. 17 sentencing hearing will be the seventh attempt.

Dearman’s delay also halted Sinipata’s hearing because attorneys want both women to stand together. Unlike Dearman, Sinipata has been in custody.

Dearman was originally charged with nearly 200 crimes. She pleaded no contest to 10 felonies in return for seven years at most. Sinipata pleaded no contest to 12 felonies with no sentencing promises.

Dearman was the finance director at the San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District. Sinipata served as an accounting supervisor and bookkeeper assistant. The pair embezzled the funds between 2009 and 2011 by giving themselves extra pay at a higher pay rate and fraudulent time off, excessively contributing to their deferred compensation funds, using credit cards for personal purchases and electronically transferring money into their own accounts. An audit showed more than $635,000 missing but prosecutors only charged them with stealing approximately $450,000 because they could not prove an actual loss of the greater amount. Other evaluations have placed the district lose closer to $800,000 for the embezzlement and more than $1.2 million when attorney fees are added in.

The charges against Dearman and Sinipata raised questions about the district’s oversight and operations, particularly because at the time Dearman had one embezzlement conviction on her record and was being prosecuted for a second. Manager Robert Gay hired Dearman without a background or reference check after Sinipata, who Gay knew through her accounting services, referred her. Dearman then hired Sinipata.

According to a now-retired operations director at the district, Dearman charged defense attorneys fees for that case to the district and at one point took medical leave, claiming she needed to care for her mother but in actuality served two years and eight months in prison for the two different embezzlement cases. In one case, Dearman ran up more than a half-million dollars on her boss’ credit card.

The embezzlement came to light after a board member appointed by the city of San Carlos questioned the balance in a pesticide account.

In July, the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury dinged the district and Gay for turning a blind eye to the embezzlement, an allegation the jury argued was bolstered by its insurance company denying the $790,000 loss claim.

michelle@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

 

 

Tags: dearman, sinipata, district, embezzlement, after,


Other stories from today:

Pedestrian struck in hit-and-run
City seeking slowdown of El Camino Real revamp: Caltrans plans Burlingame widening project with possible removal of trees
Mosquito district theft mastermind jailed
 

 
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