SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — A Santa Rosa man suspected of embezzling nearly $400,000 in Social Security funds from dozens of developmentally disabled clients is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.
Larry Gene Sark, 66, who in 2012 retired from his job as a client program coordinator for North Bay Regional Center, allegedly embezzled the money from 51 disabled clients who ranged in age from 20 to 70, Santa Rosa police Sgt. Phil Brazis said.
Investigators believe Sark used his clients’ Social Security money—intended to allow the clients to buy extra food and other daily living necessities—to lead a lavish lifestyle, Brazis said.
That lifestyle allegedly included an Egyptian honeymoon, a golfing trip, a trip to Las Vegas and meals at high-end restaurants, Brazis said.
Part of Sark’s job was to assist the individuals by requesting Social Security funds for them from the North Bay Regional Center in Santa Rosa, one of 21 regional state-run centers that serve the disabled.
North Bay Regional Center serves about 8,000 developmentally disabled people in Sonoma, Solano and Napa counties.
Brazis said Sark requested the Social Security funds without his clients’ knowledge and deposited hundreds of checks from the North Bay Regional Center into his own private bank accounts.
The alleged embezzlement occurred over several years starting in 2007, Brazis said.
Police started investigating Sark in September 2013 after allegations surfaced that he may have had an inappropriate relationship with one of his clients, Brazis said.
A North Bay Regional Center employee reviewed that client’s file and found that checks intended for the client had been deposited in Sark’s personal bank account, Brazis said.
The center then investigated the financial dealings Sark had with all of his previous clients, and with the help of Santa Rosa police detectives, they determined there were 51 alleged victims, Brazis said.
Sark was arrested Monday at his Bennett Valley home on suspicion of fiduciary abuse of a dependent adult. He remains in Sonoma County Jail and is being held on $500,000 bail.
He is scheduled to be arraigned in Sonoma County Superior Court Wednesday afternoon.
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