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Former Hartnell College employee arrested for suspected embezzlement and identity fraud totaling over $42,000

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV)-- Salinas police said that after a lengthy investigation, they arrested a former administrative assistant working for Hartnell College on eleven embezzlement and identity theft charges on Tuesday.

Rocio Mendoza, 51, is accused of using thousands of dollars from the Hartnell College Foundation by linking their credit card to her own personal Amazon account. The Hartnell College Foundation said they reported the credit card fraud to Salinas Police in the fall of 2021.

Mendoza resigned due to this investigation, and police said she was found to have also been falsifying time card entries in the payroll system, using part-time employee profiles.

The individual no longer works for the District.  As you know, personnel matters are confidential under the law.  The District is cooperating with the Foundation and with law enforcement on this matter.  The District does not want to interfere with any pending investigation and therefore we will not have any further comment.

Hartnell College Statement

KION spoke with the Hartnell College Foundation, and they said that Mendoza acted alone on "what appears to be improper use of the Foundation's payroll system by a former employee of Hartnell College."

The loss of funds was discovered by the Foundation and confirmed by the Foundation's auditor. Based on the information recently developed in conjunction with the Foundation's auditor, the loss of funds resulting from the misuse of the Foundation's payroll system appears to be in the range of $32,000. This amount is in addition to a previously discovered loss of $10,777 charged by the same employee, without authorization, on the Foundation's credit card.

Hartnell College Foundation Statement

The Hartnell College Foundation said that they discovered the identity fraud after someone came to them with a W-2 form and wondered why since they no longer worked for them. Since Mendoza was also under suspicion for the previous credit card fraud, the foundation took the incident more seriously.

Police say she faces eleven counts of identity theft and embezzlement.

The foundation said they recovered a portion of the stolen funds and will try and recover the entire balance taken by the former employee.

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Ricardo Tovar

Assignment/ Web Manager for KION News Channel 5/46 and Telemundo 23

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