Pasadena fires two ranking administrators amid embezzlement case

Pasadena has fired two ranking administrators as it copes with a multimillion-dollar embezzlement case

Two ranking administrators in Pasadena were fired Tuesday in the midst of a $6.4-million embezzlement case involving a public works employee accused of funneling money to a church where he preached.

Andrew Green, director of the city's finance department, and Siobhan Foster, director of the public works department, were terminated Tuesday, city spokesman William Boyer said.

Boyer declined to comment on the reasons for the firings, but he confirmed that they were related to the embezzlement case. City Manager Michael Beck called the terminations a "difficult decision" and cast the moves as an attempt to "move in a new direction."

"We have to rebuild confidence in our organization and regain the confidence of the community," Beck said.

Former Pasadena employee Danny Wooten and two friends were arrested in December on suspicion of embezzling at least $5 million from Pasadena coffers over more than a decade.

Wooten, 51, worked in the public works department, where he used false invoices and forged signatures to direct millions of taxpayer dollars to churches he was affiliated with and bank accounts under his name, according to Los Angeles County prosecutors.

Pasadena officials alerted authorities in May after they discovered $6.4 million in unauthorized payments from a fund that was supposed to pay for placing utilities underground.

City officials have not been able to track where the money went, and they are considering filing civil suits to recover the money.

Wooten and his friend Tyrone Collins, 55, are in custody and have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges. A third person charged in the case, Melody Jenkins, 46, pleaded not guilty and is now free on bail.

All three have court hearings scheduled Wednesday.

Green and Foster had both presented lengthy Powerpoint presentations full of proposed and adopted policy changes at a Jan. 5 council meeting called to address the embezzlement charges.

Beck would not say whether he was holding Green and Foster responsible for the multiple accounting lapses detailed in the audit. Four other employees have been placed on paid administrative leave until the city can investigate the charges fully.

Green and Foster were at-will employees, so it wasn't necessary to wait for an investigation, Beck said.

"This was not about their performance," Beck said. "This was about how to move forward."

Mayor Bill Bogaard said he supported Beck's decision, though he emphasized that Green and Foster were "dedicated and capable people who worked hard for the city."

Foster was hired by Pasadena in 2011 after working in the city of Riverside, where Beck was then working as an assistant city manager. Green was hired in 2009 after serving as a finance director in San Bernardino, Rialto and Reno, Nev.

Julie Gutierrez, Pasadena's assistant city manager, will oversee the finance and public works departments until the city can hire replacements, Boyer said.

frank.shyong@latimes.com

Twitter: @frankshyong

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