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Pasadena begins implementing changes to prevent embezzlement

File: Pasadena City Hall on April 6, 2009.
File: Pasadena City Hall on April 6, 2009.
Andy Castro/Flickr Creative Commons

Pasadena City Hall has implemented several changes to improve its oversight of public funds following the embezzlement of some $6 million from a single public works employee last year, according to a staff report released Monday.

The employee, Danny R. Wooten, allegedly created false invoices for the city's Utility Underground Program between 2004 and March 2014. The theft was discovered in May that year and eventually led to Wooten's arrest and, according to the Los Angeles Times, to two other administrators getting fired.

The city council launched three separate audits earlier this year, gathering nearly 50 recommendations on how to improve its financial oversight of the program and its accounting practices in general.

On Monday, council members listened for more than three hours as staff gave an update on some of the changes that had been made, including the hiring of additional personnel, according to Pasadena Now.

"None of us thinks there's a silver bullet that will stop future embezzlements. No one thing that we could recommend that you could adopt will stop future wrongdoers," said Doug Kranwinkle, chair of a city-appointed task force that carried out one of the audits.

That said, if all of the recommendations are adopted and with on-going controls and monitoring, another 11-year series of embezzlements by staff "simply won't happen," said Kranwinkle in an archived video of the meeting.

Following are some of the actions taken by the city that were highlighted in the staff report:

Mayor Terry Tornek said he and the council wanted to reassure the public that changes are happening without delay and that "it won't be a 3-year timeline," Pasadena Now reports.