A Santa Clarita City engineer held on embezzlement charges has plead not guilty in court. According to reports, David Rubira, a former city engineer is alleged to have embezzled more than $500,000 in public funds over a 3 year period. Prosecutors state that Rubira slowly diverted refunds to fake companies he owned. The refunds were supposed to go to construction contractors that had completed projects throughout the city. After pleading not guilty, a judge ordered Rubiro held in lieu of $675,000 bail. All told, he is being charged with 7 counts of embezzlement and one count of public officer embezzling for personal use.
California’s embezzlement law is covered under California Penal Code 503 PC and is described as fraudulently appropriating property that belongs to someone else and has been placed in your care. Like the case against Rubira, embezzlement often brings to mind high-profile cases involving large sums of money. However, most cases of embezzlement involve only small amounts of money or other property.
Interestingly, it’s possible to be charged with embezzlement even if the defendant didn’t intend to keep the property indefinitely. For example, let’s say Fred works at a rental car agency and his wife needs to borrow a car to attend a job interview. Rather than have her pay for a rental, he simply hands her the keys and she uses the car for the day. Even though she returned the car, it’s still possible for Fred to be charged with embezzlement because he was trusted with the vehicle’s care and he lent it to his wife without paying for it or going through the proper paperwork.
503 PC can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the type of property that was fraudulently appropriated and its value. If the property or cash value is worth more than $950, is an automobile or a firearm, the individual will face penalties related to California Grand Theft (487 PC). Felony penalties include 16 months to 3 years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000 and felony probation. Misdemeanor charges can result in penalties that include misdemeanor probation, up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Due to the high amount of money allegedly embezzled by Rubira, and his position as a public official, he faces up to 14 years in California state prison if convicted on all charges.