Need to strengthen Oxnard’s laws concerning access to government liquid assets

By Phil Molina
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Mr. Mayor, Councilmembers and We the Public:
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Not yet sure who will be our next City Treasurer. I want to offer this observation and request.
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In local government there are Federal and State laws, and local ordinances. When a city wants to emphasize and provide more guidance, it will approve an ordinance that might be more detailed and direct than the State’s laws.
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BankVault
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There are State laws that provide authority to the City Treasurer to be responsible for “all money coming into his hands”. But in the current audit, see below, one of the findings  identified that Oxnard employees have interpreted that law in such a way that they feel allows them to open their own bank accounts presumably under the name of the city of Oxnard and then deposit funds they receive into those accounts.
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Obviously this doesn’t bode well for Council, Treasurer and City Clerk oversight if we don’t know where the money is kept.
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Would you be willing to support an ordinance that is consistent with State laws listed below would:
1.Provide that only the City Treasurer can establish bank accounts for the city, and all associated agencies of the city;
2. that any/all money and other forms of security received whether in the form of a check, bond, cash, money order, credit card transaction, etc. by any city employee must be turned over to the Treasurer as soon as reasonably possible, but not more than 48 hours after receipt;
3. no other city official shall  establish, terminate or liquidate any city bank account; and that no other city official shall transfer city liquid assets without the City Treasurer’s signed approval, and
4. provide that a violation of this ordinance shall be deemed as “intent to violate the law”.
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And finally demand that every Oxnard employee go through an orientation and sign a paper stating they received instructions on how to handle any/all liquid assets coming into their hands. Without this specifically stated authority the city treasurer, council, and city clerk could find it much more difficult to do their jobs.
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2015-025 MW Bank accounts were opened without the Treasurer’s

Office’s knowledge.

Only the Treasurer should be allowed to open bank

accounts on behalf of the City. All bank statements

should be sent directly to the Treasurer’s Office. The

Treasurer’s Office should review the bank statements,

retain the original, and send copies to the personnel who

prepares the bank reconciliation.

GC 41001

The city treasurer shall receive and safely keep all money coming into his hands as treasurer.

(Added by Stats. 1949, Ch. 79.)

GC 41607 The chief of police shall perform any license fee and tax collection services prescribed by ordinance. (

Added by Stats. 1949, Ch. 79.)

GC 41608

He (the police chief)  shall keep a detailed and up-to-date record of all fees for service of process or other money collected by his department or paid to him in his official capacity. The record shall be open for public inspection during office hours

(Added by Stats. 1949, Ch. 79.)

GC 41609 He (the police chief)  shall immediately deposit with the city treasurer all money collected by his department as required by ordinance.

(Added by Stats. 1949, Ch. 79.)

GC 53680 A tax collector of a local agency shall immediately deposit with the treasurer all money under his control, unless he deposits the money in a depositary pursuant to this article under permission and instructions of the treasurer having authority to make such deposit.(Added by Stats. 1949, Ch. 81.)
 

GC 53630 

As used in this article:

(a) “Local agency” means county, city, city and county, including a chartered city or county, a community college district, or other public agency or corporation in this state.

(b) “Treasurer” means treasurer of the local agency.

(c) “Depository” means a state or national bank, savings association or federal association, a state or federal credit union, or a federally insured industrial loan company, in this state in which the moneys of a local agency are deposited.

(d) “Agent of depository” means a trust company or trust department of a state or national bank located in this state, including the trust department of a depository where authorized, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, which is authorized to act as an agent of depository for the purposes of this article pursuant to Section 53657.

(e) “Security” means any of the eligible securities or obligations listed in Section 53651.

(f) “Pooled securities” means eligible securities held by an agent of depository for a depository and securing deposits of one or more local agencies.

(g) “Administrator” means the Administrator of Local Agency Security of the State of California.

(h) “Savings association or federal association” means a savings association, savings and loan association, or savings bank as defined by Section 5102 of the Financial Code.

(i) “Federally insured industrial loan company” means an industrial loan company licensed under Division 7 (commencing with Section 18000) of the Financial Code, the investment certificates of which are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

(j) “Corporation” includes a limited liability company.

(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 118, Sec. 19.7. Effective January 1, 2005.)

California Laws and Penalties

In this state, embezzlement is punished depending upon the value of the assets misappropriated; this is according to CA Penal Code 514. Higher penalties can apply to crimes with aggravating factors:

Property Worth $950 or Less – Petty Theft

This is a misdemeanor, and the defendant can receive a jail term of up to six months and be fined up to $1000.

Property Worth More Than $950 – Grand Theft

Property embezzled worth more than $950 can get you a jail sentence of up to a year, which is a misdemeanor. You also can be sentenced to up to three years in prison in such a case, according to CA Penal Code 484.

Note that embezzling any type of public funds in California is a felony. If you are convicted of embezzling these types of funds, you may get more prison time or fines, and you will probably have to pay back the stolen property. You also will never be eligible again for any job or office in state or local government.

TITLE 12. OF CRIMES AGAINST THE REVENUE AND PROPERTY OF THIS STATE [424 – 440]

( Title 12 enacted 1872. )

424.

(a) Each officer of this state, or of any county, city, town, or district of this state, and every other person charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer, or disbursement of public moneys, who either:

1. Without authority of law, appropriates the same, or any portion thereof, to his or her own use, or to the use of another; or,

2. Loans the same or any portion thereof; makes any profit out of, or uses the same for any purpose not authorized by law; or,

3. Knowingly keeps any false account, or makes any false entry or erasure in any account of or relating to the same; or,

4. Fraudulently alters, falsifies, conceals, destroys, or obliterates any account; or,

5. Willfully refuses or omits to pay over, on demand, any public moneys in his or her hands, upon the presentation of a draft, order, or warrant drawn upon these moneys by competent authority; or,

6. Willfully omits to transfer the same, when transfer is required by law; or,

7. Willfully omits or refuses to pay over to any officer or person authorized by law to receive the same, any money received by him or her under any duty imposed by law so to pay over the same;—

Is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and is disqualified from holding any office in this state.

(b) As used in this section, “public moneys” includes the proceeds derived from the sale of bonds or other evidence or indebtedness authorized by the legislative body of any city, county, district, or public agency.

(c) This section does not apply to the incidental and minimal use of public resources authorized by Section 8314 of the Government Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2003, Ch. 62, Sec. 227. Effective January 1, 2004.)

 

Phillip Molina is a candidate for Oxnard City Treasurer, a resident and a former Oxnard Finance Director
 

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