62-year-old Jo Ann Seeney, former finance director of the San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District, has pled “no contest” to the 10 felony embezzlement charges against her in San Mateo Superior Court for her assistance in taking $450,000 from the state. It seems that Seeney and a fellow co-worker stole from the agency in a number of ways, including padding their deferred compensation funds, transferring money from county accounts to their own, and using the mosquito control district’s credit card for personal purchases – among other means to garner themselves extra pay and get money for fake time off. Seeney had already been arrested in 2009 for embezzling approximately $568,000 from her former Foster City employer, ConforMIS and later for thieving from Mark de Bilbo & Co.
Under CA Penal Code §503, embezzlement is also termed “employee theft” or “employee fraud.” It is a “white collar” crime, making illegal the unlawful theft of something that has been entrusted to you, as the monies were in the case of the San Mateo mosquito district’s county funds that Seeney was over during her time there. Though Seeney has pled “no contest,” meaning that she has admitted guilt in the incidents, defenses against this accusation include misleading or misread evidence and false accusations. One other defense against this criminal charge is having had a lapse in judgment – which is true at least in Seeney’s case. Prosecutors and friends have claimed that she is not a gambler or a drug addict, but simply a woman who was trying to support her family after a difficult and financially draining divorce. Seeney will face up to 7 years in state prison for her actions, but one has to wonder how difficult it is for the state and county to prosecute a so obviously desperate woman who was merely attempting to keep her family afloat.