Cathedral City Mayor Pro Tem Charles F. Vasquez, who was arrested and charged with stealing public funds, has been released from an Indio jail on $50,000 bail, officials said.
The Riverside County district attorney’s office alleged he used a program for computer purchases to buy MasterCard gift cards and other personal items.
Vasquez, 52, was charged with three felony counts of misappropriation of public funds in excess of $2,000. The councilman was arrested at his Cathedral City home Monday about 9 p.m. by D.A. investigators.
Riverside County prosecutors are alleging that Vasquez misused city funds provided to city employees and council members so they could purchase desktop or laptop computers or tablets.
Under the program, they were lent money at 6% interest to buy electronics but were required to get an invoice or price quote from a vendor. They were then given a city check to use for the purchase.
But prosecutors allege that Vasquez used some of the funds from August 2011 to December 2012 for unauthorized personal items.
“It was discovered that, in December 2012, Vasquez was provided a city credit card for the purpose of purchasing a laptop and a tablet but instead used the credit card to purchase $2,028 in prepaid MasterCard gift cards,” said John Hall, a spokesman for D.A.'s office.
Prosecutors allege that Vasquez submitted fraudulent invoices under the loan program and then used the loan proceeds to purchase unapproved personal items in addition to some computer equipment.
If convicted, Vasquez faces up to six years in prison.