$1.3 million of funds allegedly embezzled from the Association of Bay Area Governments, a governmental planning and development consortium similar to San Diego's SANDAG, somehow wound up in an account at the Citibank branch in La Jolla, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s website.
According to the Chronicle and other Bay Area media outlets, Clarke Howatt, the agency's director of financial service, tendered his resignation after it came to light he was wanted for questioning in the disappearance of the money, intended for parks and other public works in the city of San Francisco.
Noted the paper, "it’s unclear where he was when the resignation was tendered or whether he intends to cooperate with an investigation."
“It appears that Clarke Howatt...executed a sophisticated scheme to defraud the agency by creating illegitimate documents, creating false identities, and deceiving (ABAG’s Finance Authority for Nonprofits) board and bank trustees to wire these funds,” the association's deputy executive director Brad Paul was quoted as saying in a statement.
“I will make every attempt to get the funds restored,” Howatt's resignation letter reportedly said. “I’ll try my best to get the money replaced as soon as I can.”
"Officials are seeking to determine if Howatt created a fake entity purporting to be the developer of the One Rincon Hill high-rise housing complex and then sought a $1.3 million reimbursement for streetscape improvements that were never made," the Chronicle’s account says.
The $1,296,340.66 in missing money, transferred by wire to the La Jolla Citibank, was discovered last month during a routine audit, according to an account in the Bond Buyer.
An agency employee since 1995, Howatt had previously been public finance banker for Rauscher Pierce Refsnes and Kidder, Peabody & Co.
Tales of La Jolla financial frauds and embezzlements are many, the most notorious being the ponzi scheme conducted by J. David Dominelli, who did a ten-year stretch in federal prison for fleecing wealthy but gullible San Diegans out of millions. He died in 2009.
Other noted La Jolla money masters of interest to the FBI have included Allen Glick, the real estate entrepreneur who fronted the mobbed-up Stardust, Fremont, and Hacienda hotels in Las Vegas.
Another famous case was that of Clifford Graham, who conned Republican ex-congressmen Jack Kemp and Bob Wilson into investing their prestige in a phony backcountry gold-from-sand operation called Au Magnetics before disappearing forever in May 1985 when the project went belly up.
And last July, the ringleader of a gang that allegedly stole over $1 million from Citibank casino kiosks by exploiting a software glitch pled guilty in federal court here.