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Former Pasadena City Employee Convicted in $3M Embezzlement Scheme

Originally published Nov. 6 @4:11 p.m. / Last updated Nov. 6 @4:43 p.m.

The City of Pasadena has issued a public statement regarding the conviction of former city employee Danny Wooten. Lisa Derderian, Pasadena’s acting public information officer sent the following to local media outlets:

“’The City of Pasadena appreciates the work of the District Attorney’s Office in bringing an embezzler of public money to justice. Danny Wooten, the lone city employee involved in a scheme which embezzled $6.4 million from the taxpayers, has now been convicted and will likely serve jail time for this crime. Thankfully, Pasadena’s citizens were made whole by insurance proceeds which covered the loss with a cash payment to the city. There have been significant changes in strengthening internal financial controls so that this cannot happen again,’ states Mayor Terry Tornek.”

Danny Ray Wooten, 54, was a former Pasadena management analyst in the city’s Public Works Department, which was in charge of relocating all of the city’s utility lines underground. Wooten was convicted by a jury of embezzling $6.4 million from a City Hall fund generated by a surtax on residents’ electricity bills. The funds are supposed to be used for beautifying the city by undergrounding utility lines.

Between 2004 and March 2014, Wooten created false invoices for the underground utility program and stole roughly $3.5 million by funneling the money to Altadena-based contractor Tyrone Collins, who owns Collins Electric and was also convicted.

Wooten also created bank accounts purporting to represent two religious organizations. However he was the only person on the account, the prosecutor said.

The Scheme was discovered in 2014 when the city ordered an audit.

Jurors deliberated for about three days before finding Danny Wooten guilty of 53 counts, including embezzlement, conflict of interest and misappropriation of public funds. Co-defendant Collins was convicted of 20 counts, including embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds. Wooten faces up to 24 years in state prison while Collins faces up to 15 years in state prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 11 in Department 102 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Case BA430233 was investigated by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation and the City of Pasadena.

November 6, 2018

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