DA charges man with stealing from City
A Visalia business owner will be arraigned today on charges he used City of Farmersville bank accounts to purchase company equipment and even pay his personal bills.
Jeremiah Trice of Visalia was arrested on Aug. 9 on two counts of grand theft from the City of Farmersville following a four month investigation. As owner of Jay’s Custom Computers, Trice was contracted by the City of Farmersville as a computer service technician. According to the District Attorney’s Office Trice is accused of making purchases and paying his personal bills using City of Farmersville accounts totaling approximately $36,750.
“We are grateful to the District Attorney’s Office,” said Interim City Manager Mario Krstic. “We called them in April and they immediately sent people over to begin working on the case. We were completely hands off and let them run their investigation.”
Krstic, who is also Farmersville’s Chief of Police, said Trice only did work at City Hall and did not have access to any public safety files or data or other city services. Trice will be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. today, Wednesday, Aug. 28 in Department 4 of the Tulare County Superior Court, with Judge Darryl Ferguson presiding.
The news comes two months after Farmersville resident Al Vanderslice made comments implying that former City Manager Renee Miller’s retirement and former Finance Director Patty Miller’s termination in the same month had something to do with the missing money.
“Renee’s decision [to retire] was not based on the incident,” Krstic said. “She let us know in May she would be retiring and then stayed on to make sure the transition went smoothly, and we are grateful she did.”
Krstic confirmed that Patty Miller was terminated in June but could not disclose the reasons for her termination due to employee confidentiality. The departure of the Millers (no relation) left several significant voids in City Hall. Patty Miller not only served as the City’s Finance Director but also as the City Clerk. Half of her position was filled on June 24 when the City Council appointed account clerk Erika Haro to the position of Deputy City Clerk, as she had already been doing some of those duties such as preparing City Council agendas.
Krstic said the City is now taking steps to hire a Finance Director/City Clerk. At the Aug. 12 Farmersville City Council meeting, Krstic told the Council the closing date for people to apply for the position is Friday, Aug. 30. He said he expects the Council to make a decision by the end of September with someone in place by mid-October 2013.
“The finance director is a more essential position given the economic times we live in,” Krstic said. “It’s a key position that oversees not only finances, but running utility payments and billing utility statements in this office.”
Once the City Council selects a new Finance Director/City Clerk, Krstic said he will begin the search for a new City Manager. Krstic expects the Council to appoint a new City Manager by February 2014.
The Farmersville City Council also amended its policy for people to serve on the newly formed Recreation Committee. The Council removed language requiring residents live in or near the city limits to saying seats on the committee are open to anyone the City Council approves.
The issue was brought up in June by Rene Griffie-Stewart, a long-time softball coach and youth sports volunteer in town who did not live within the city limits. At its June 24 meeting, the Farmersville City Council voted to allow people living outside the city to serve on the commission. Krstic said the City Council also added a section to the policy to address fund-raising by commissioners who will have the power to grant city funds for youth sports programs and projects.