by Carlos E. Castañeda

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The chief financial officer for Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District has been put on paid administrative leave after being arrested and accused embezzling more than a half-million dollars from religious organizations that provide for the poor, according to prosecutors.

Lewis G. Clinton, Jr. , who has been CFO for AC Transit since 2008, allegedly used the money for personal expenses such as mortgage payments, private school tuition for his children, golf club membership, and to buy at least one luxury automobile, according to a declaration in support of probable cause filed by the Alameda County District Attorneys’ Office.

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In the affidavit from Inspector James Taranto, Clinton is alleged to have diverted more than $500,000 from three organizations run by Oakland-based Allen Temple Baptist Church to his own firm, Eagle Asset Management.

The non-profit corporations were formed by Allen Temple, located on 8501 International Blvd., to provide housing and deliver services to low- and moderate-income families in the community.

Between April 2007 and February 2013, Clinton is alleged to have used his position on the boards of each of the corporations to access their financial accounts and divert $500,000 to his own company’s checking account.

Clinton is also alleged to have stolen another $66,000 from the Allen Temple Housing and Economic Development Corporation (ATHEDCO) through debit card purchases and ATM withdrawals.

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The alleged embezzlement was not discovered until March of 2013, when a shortage of operating capital at ATHEDCO prompted an investigation, the declaration stated. The improper use of debit cards and ATM withdrawals was discovered no earlier than December of 2012 when a bookkeeper noticed a pattern of improper withdrawals, according to the statement.

Clinton allegedly reassured a church official that nothing was inappropriate and the alleged offenses were not discovered  because he held a position of trust with the corporations involved.

He is charged with four counts of grand theft and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Meanwhile, he was still receiving his $225,000 a-year salary from AC Transit.

A special hearing was held Monday evening where the board voted to put Clinton on paid administrative leave while the charges are investigated.

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