A former employee of Placentia’s Finance Department has been arrested after allegedly embezzling and misappropriating $4.3 million in public funds, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
Michael Nguyen was initially suspended and later terminated following an investigation prompted by a city initiated request, a DA news release stated.
The alleged embezzlement was an “affront” to the hard-working people of Placentia, said City Administrator Damien R. Arrula.
“It is of grave concern to learn that a City employee would exploit his position and knowledge of our internal controls for personal gain,” Arrula said.
Of the $4.3 million, $1.5 had been recovered and additional funds were identified for potential recovery, the DA stated.
Additional details on how the funds were taken or used was not provided.
The city “immediately” contacted the DA after allegations arose, and a forensic accountant was provided to assist with evaluating the loss and recovery of funds.
The city also planned to hire a forensic auditor, the DA said.
“This goes completely against the values of our city and the positive strides we have made during the last year,” said Placentia Mayor Jeremy Yamaguchi. “Any misuse of our taxpayers’ funds is adverse to the values and commitment that we strive for as a city.”