Ex-State Employee Charged With Embezzlement, Other Counts – NBC Los Angeles

on Apr3
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A former state employee accused of funneling more than $200,000 in disability payments to herself while she worked for California’s Employment Development Department failed to show up in court Friday for arraignment, prompting a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to issue a bench warrant. 

Karina Maria Valdez, 38, was due in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to enter a plea to one felony count each of embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds, perjury, identity theft and grand theft, according to Greg Risling of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. 

Beginning in 2014, Valdez allegedly manipulated the accounts of people seeking disability benefits while she worked as a disability insurance program representative. 

An LA County EDD employee was arrested and charged with theft by embezzlement, her alleged crimes occurred before the pandemic, but underscores the ongoing system weaknesses that led to all the fraud we’ve seen lately. Randy Mac reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on March 19, 2021.

She’s accused of routing debit cards with fraudulent information to herself and withdrawing roughly $215,000 over a five-year period, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

“People were relying on these payments and they were unwittingly taken advantage of by someone who was supposed to help them,” District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement. “I will continue to strive for clean government and rid corruption from public offices.” 

The charges, filed last month, stem from an investigation by the Employment Development Department.

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