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Former Animal Care Services employee arrested for misappropriation of $251,000 in public funds

May 11th, 2012 · No Comments · News

On Thursday, May 10, detectives from the Long Beach Police Department’s (LBPD) Forgery/Fraud Detail arrested Jongluck “Lucky” Mutrais, a former Long Beach Animal Care Services Bureau clerk, for misappropriation of $251,000 in public funds.
Mutrais, a 59-year-old resident of Orange, was arrested at her home this morning without incident and charged with multiple felony counts, including misappropriation of public funds, altering or falsifying an account, embezzlement by a public officer, and filing false tax returns. She is currently being held at the Long Beach City Jail on $500,000 bail. If convicted of all the charges, Mutrais faces up to nine years in state prison.
A criminal complaint was filed on May 9, 2012, in which Mutrais is accused of embezzling the funds over a 10-month period between Oct. 1, 2009, and Aug. 31, 2010. The theft came to light on Aug. 31, 2010, after new management in the Animal Care Services Bureau implemented a comprehensive computer system to improve animal license, dispatch, and shelter information, and to enhance tracking of their daily financial operations. City management notified the LBPD and the Office of the City Auditor, and both immediately initiated independent investigations.
Mutrais, a 21-year employee of Animal Care Services, resigned on Sept. 1, 2010.
“Fraud of any kind by a City employee will not be tolerated, and we will aggressively pursue criminal charges against any employee who we believe embezzled taxpayers’ funds,” said Patrick H. West, city manager.
The collaborative investigation by the LBPD, Animal Care Services, and the city auditor led to the recent filing of charges with the district attorney and the arrest of Mutrais.
City Auditor Laura Doud, whose office released an audit Thursday of Long Beach Animal Care Services, said the misappropriation of public funds was able to occur because one employee had the ability to perform the reconciliation and deposit the money without any supervisory review, creating a high-risk environment for fraud.
“As the City continues with cuts to the budget and the possibility of eliminating staff, this instance heightens the importance of ensuring proper controls are in place to verify all monies are deposited into the City’s treasury,” Doud said. “This includes having clear procedures and training for managers overseeing cash so they can adequately design and implement proper controls that will safeguard our City revenue. I hope our audit reinforces the need for improved technology which will enable the City to properly monitor and track every dollar owed and received and reduce the opportunity for fraud.”
The full report with a detailed explanation of Doud’s recommendations and management comments can be viewed on the city auditor’s website at CityAuditorLauraDoud.com
Long Beach Animal Care Services Bureau is responsible for the intake of stray and surrendered animals, field and kennel operations, animal abuse investigations, pet licensing, low-cost pet care services, and other related operations.
Anyone who may have information regarding this case is urged to contact LBPD Forgery/Fraud Detail at (562) 570-7330. Anonymous tips may be submitted via text or web by visiting tipsoft.com.

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