Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing From the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office
Press release from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office:
As a result of felony charges having been filed last month by the District Attorney charging embezzlement of public funds, a former financial analyst at the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office entered guilty pleas at her arraignment yesterday morning to six felony counts of grand theft.
Melissa Alcala Alvarez, age 28, now of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, appearing with private defense counsel, was accused to stealing public funds over a 16-month period while she was employed at the Sheriff’s Office. Beginning Aug. 29, 2016 through Nov. 1, 2017, $35,000 was systematically stolen by Alcala Alvarez while she was responsible for and working alone with cash receipts.
After Alcala Alvarez left her job at the Sheriff’s Office, county financial employees were auditing MCSO records when fraudulent accounting was discovered that lead to a criminal investigation, an effort spearheaded by Sheriff’s Sgt. Andrew Porter.
Prior to submitting the gathered evidence to the District Attorney for review and charging consideration, Sergeant Porter and Chief District Attorney Investigator Kevin Bailey traveled to North Carolina to confront the suspect and give her an opportunity to explain “her work” at the Sheriff’s Office. Initially denying all wrongdoing, Alcala Alvarez finally admitted some wrongdoing but refused to confirm all the incriminating evidence, including bank records, which had methodically been compiled as evidence against her. Accounting safeguards have subsequently been instituted at the Sheriff’s Office to prevent similar acts from being perpetrated in the future.
Following the defendant’s guilty pleas yesterday morning, the Court referred the matter to the Adult Probation Department for a social study and sentencing recommendation. A formal sentencing hearing is now scheduled for 9 a.m. May 22 in Department B of the Mendocino County Superior Court in Ukiah.
Anybody interested in the outcome of this case is welcome to attend the May 22 hearing. The sentence options range from 64 months in local prison (county jail) to supervised probation with up to a year in county jail. Any sentence will include a requirement that the defendant fully reimburse the Sheriff’s Office for all monies she misappropriated.
The prosecutor handling this matter is District Attorney David Eyster. The agencies involved in gathering the necessary evidence against the defendant were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, the Mendocino County Auditor-Controller’s Office, the Mendocino County Counsel’s Office, and the District Attorney’s own investigators. The judge who accepted the defendant’s guilty pleas and who will be the sentencing judge in May is Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Cindee Mayfield.