A former Pasadena public works analyst and two of his friends were arrested on charges they embezzled more than $6 million in city money over a decade, prosecutors said.
Danny R. Wooten, 51, Tyrone Collins, 55, and Melody Jenkins, 46, were arrested Tuesday by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation.
They are charged in a 60-count felony complaint with embezzlement, conflict of interest and grand theft with excessive taking allegations.
Wooten was a management analyst in the city's Public Works Department, which was in charge of relocating all of the city's utility lines underground.
Top news of the day
"Clearly, Mr. Wooten, according the arrest and the allegations, chose to take another course," said William Boyer, a spokesman for the suburb of about 140,000 people that is best known as the home of The Rose Parade and Rose Bowl.
Between 2004 and March 2014, Wooten is suspected of creating false invoices for the underground utility program and stealing more than $6 million.
He allegedly directed more than $2 million of the stolen money to Collins, who owns Collins Electric.
Wooten also allegedly gave Jenkins, who was a temporary Pasadena City employee, more than $40,000 in stolen city money.
Wooten is also suspected of setting up bank accounts in his name and directing city money to two churches he was affiliated with — the Southern California Evangelist Jurisdiction Center and the New Covenant Christian Fellowship Center in Pomona.
Prosecutors said the alleged theft was discovered earlier this year when the city ordered an audit. If convicted, Wooten faces up to 28 years in state prison.
Collins faces up to 18 years in state prison.
Collins' wife, Vanitta, said her husband had never been in trouble in their 31 years of marriage and had worked on and off for the city of Pasadena for about 10 years to relocate electrical lines underground. She said he spoke occasionally with Wooten, but said she never met him and had no inkling of any criminal behavior.
"I figured everything was honest and forthright. I didn't ever see this coming," she said. "I can't eat, I can't think straight. I just can't believe this is happening."
Jenkins faces up to four years in state prison.
Wooten, who earned about $100,000 a year, was fired in July for an unrelated personnel matter that Boyer was not authorized to disclose.