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Former Mendocino Sheriff’s Office employee convicted of embezzlement

A former Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) financial analyst pleaded guilty at her arraignment Monday to six felony counts of grand theft, according to the district attorney.

The district attorney says felony charges were filed last month with the attorney charging 28-year-old Melissa Alcalá Alvarez with the embezzlement of public funds.

According to officials, Alvarez pleaded guilty to stealing public funds over a 16-month time period while she was employed at the sheriff’s office. Beginning in August of 2016 through November of 2017, officials say Alvarez systematically stole $35,000 while she was responsible for and working alone with cash receipts.

"After Alcalá Alvarez left her job at the sheriff’s office, county financial employees were auditing MCSO records when fraudulent accounting was discovered that led to a criminal investigation," the district attorney said.

Initially denying all wrongdoing, officials reported that Alvarez finally admitted some wrongdoing but refused to confirm all the incriminating evidence, including her bank records, which had methodically been compiled as evidence against her.

Officials say accounting safeguards have subsequently been instituted at the sheriff’s office to prevent similar acts from being perpetrated in the future.

Her formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 22 at 9 a.m. at the Ukiah courthouse.

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