A former Pasadena city worker and his two friends were arrested for allegedly embezzling $6 million dollars and funneling it through local churches. The supposed crimes took place over a 10-year period before being uncovered during a city audit.
On Tuesday, Danny Wooten, a former Pasadena Public Works analyst, was arrested with Tyrone Collins and Melody Jenkins as part of a 60-count felony alleging embezzlement and grand theft. Wooten was not immediately available for comments, and is being accused of falsifying 296 invoices for the underground utility program, a program he himself managed.
The underground utilities fund bankrolled construction that moved above-ground power underground, as well as communication lines. These funds were procured from taxpayers and electric customers. The district attorney’s office released this official statement:
“He (Wooten) allegedly directed more than $2 million of the stolen money to Collins, who owns Collins Electric. Wooten also allegedly gave Jenkins, who was a temporary Pasadena city employee, more than $40,000 in stolen city money… In addition, Wooten is suspected of setting up bank accounts in his name and directing city money to two churches he was affiliated with – the Southern California Evangelist Jurisdiction Center and the New Covenant Christian Fellowship Center in Pomona.”
In May 2014, city staff noticed account irregularities that led to an internal investigation followed by a second investigation by the district attorney’s office. Wooten was fired on July 25, 2014, for reasons unrelated to the embezzlement allegations. City Manager Michael J. Beck released this statement in response to the investigation:
“Embezzlement and theft of public funds is an affront to the people of Pasadena and to our hard-working employees. We will not tolerate criminal misconduct by city employees and we will fully cooperate in their prosecution.”
The case remains under investigation.