Court Clerk Receives Jail Term for Theft


A Ventura County court clerk convicted of stealing cash from a courthouse evidence vault was sentenced to 364 days in jail Friday and ordered to repay the money.

A judge agreed to give Fernando Tirado, 32, of Oxnard a sentence one-day short of a year to save the Mexican native from being deported. Legal immigrants convicted of a felony and sentenced to a year or more in jail are eligible to be deported, prosecutors said.

Tirado had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of felony embezzlement.

Acting Superior Court Judge Kenneth Ziebarth was appointed to handle the case because all of the sitting Ventura County judges know Tirado and declared conflicts of interests. Ziebarth is a retired San Bernardino County judge.


After his sentencing, Tirado handed over a cashier’s check worth $4,733--the amount an audit found missing from the vault.

Tirado was arrested in July when a sealed evidence envelope opened during a drug trial was $20 short of the $420 it was supposed to contain. Investigators believe that Tirado had been embezzling from the court vault for at least three years.

“He liked to pretend he was a big shot,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Matthew J. Hardy III said. “He liked to take people to lunch and talk about being a successful businessman.”

Hardy said Tirado was spared a prison sentence because this was his first criminal conviction.