Almanac

News - May 18, 2011

Ex-Atherton employee pleads no contest to embezzlement from town's post office annex

• Lois English was on building department staff during tumultuous period.

by Renee Batti

Former Atherton town employee Lois English pleaded no contest in San Mateo County Superior Court on May 2 to charges of embezzlement and petty theft from the post office, according to Kevin Collins, a deputy district attorney.

Ms. English was working for the postal annex in Atherton Town Hall when the embezzlement occurred between Sept. 29 and Oct. 10, 2008, he said.

In October 2009, the District Attorney's Office filed embezzlement and grand theft charges, but reduced the charge to petty theft because the amount involved was near the $950 threshold that must be crossed before the crime is considered grand theft, he said.

Ms. English was sentenced May 2 to one day in county jail and 18 months of probation. She was ordered to pay $969 in restitution plus 10 percent in administrative fees to the Menlo Park post office, which contracts with the town of Atherton to have an annex in Town Hall. She also must pay $394 in court fines and $110 in restitution to the public defender.

Ms. English was caught up in the town's building department upheaval that came to a head in 2005 and 2006. She was the permit technician in the department when it was headed by Mike Hood, who left under a cloud in June 2006. An audit of the department conducted by then finance director John Johns raised a number of red flags about questionable practices and financial transactions.

The town took a series of measures to fix identified problems within the building department after Mr. Hood's departure, including transferring Ms. English, who ended up behind the desk of the post office annex.

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