Ex-Menlo Park employee charged with misdemeanor embezzlement

Recreation clerk allegedly pocketed class fees

A 48-year-old man who collected program fees at the front desk of the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center in Menlo Park has been charged with misdemeanor embezzlement, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Based on information obtained during an investigation conducted by Menlo Park police, Michael Benjamin Thulander allegedly pocketed an estimated $200 by diverting an $8 fee students would pay to attend dance classes at the rec center, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. He would then reportedly not register the students' attendance.

The San Mateo resident faces a maximum of six months in county jail if convicted, the district attorney said.

Mr. Thulander worked for the city of Menlo Park from June 1999 until April 2014 as a part-time night clerk, according to the city's human resources department, and was being paid $19.08 an hour at the time his employment ended.

His arraignment is scheduled for May 23. The Almanac was not able to immediately reach him for comment.


Like this comment
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Wow, this guy was making $19.08 per hour?!? I worked for over a half century and never made THAT kind of money!!! What a dummy he was to steal!!!

Like this comment
Posted by McGruff
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 6, 2014 at 12:33 pm

A $200 theft? What a sting operation this must have been. How much tax payer money will be spent on prosecution, arrest, processing paperwork? Have him terminated, pay it back and drop the rest. He would have done better falsifying his timecard.

Like this comment
Posted by ABCD
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 6, 2014 at 3:58 pm

There's possibly more to it than that.

Also, what took them so long to find this?

Over the past few years we've been hearing a series of mismanagement events out of the Recreation Department, like the Michelle Sutton fiasco.

Like this comment
Posted by LOL
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Had he waited a few more years, he would have collected a pension far greater than $200. Really, there is greater outrage in City Management than this!

Like this comment
Posted by Petty
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 6, 2014 at 8:40 pm

All so petty but very odd that management felt the need to have police conduct an investigation...and then sit on the scandal instead of informing the public. Check the timeline here. something is amiss.

Like this comment
Posted by appropriate
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2014 at 9:20 am

Petty, it is inappropriate for the city to conduct their own investigation, or to leak the story to the press. When an employee is suspected of embezzlement, it is appropriate for police to do an investigation. If an employee is charged with a crime, only then is it appropriate for the press to report the story. If the evidence merits a trial, the jury will hear the evidence.

Like this comment
Posted by Petty
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 7, 2014 at 1:04 pm

The Mercury News is reporting that the Menlo Park City police investigated the petty theft back in August. Seems like a long delay for the DA to charge the employee with embezzlement. And he now just left the job in April. What's up with that?

Like this comment
Posted by Reality
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 8, 2014 at 7:25 am

I'm glad The Recreation Department is firing these people. If they weren't, I'd be disappointed. [Portion removed. In your Town Square comments, please don't assume someone charged with an offense is guilty.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Burger chain Shake Shack to open in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 11 comments | 3,524 views

Eat, Surf, Love
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 1,182 views

Couples: So You Married Mom or Dad . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,138 views

The Cost of Service
By Aldis Petriceks | 1 comment | 797 views

One-on-one time
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 214 views