SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — A former employee with the County of Marin is accused of stealing nearly $2 million from the county’s emergency rental assistance program.

Eric Faulks was charged Wednesday with embezzlement of public funds, entering a computer system to defraud, and seven counts of grand theft, according to a press release from the county.

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Faulks was an employment development counselor who managed the rental assistance program during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program helps tenants and landlords unable to cover rent because of hardships tied directly to the pandemic and is funded by the state and federal government.

Marin County officials became aware of suspicious transactions in June after being notified by an out-of-state bank and contacted the district attorney’s office. According to investigators, Faulks used his position with the county to approve transactions involving fraudulent landlord applications.

The County placed Faulks, a Solano County resident, on administrative leave immediately after a search warrant was executed of his personal property and he resigned shortly after.

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“We take our stewardship of public funds very seriously,” said Assistant County Administrator Angela Nicholson in a prepared statement. “We have taken extra measures to detect fraud and ensure that these funds are provided for the important purposes of keeping families housed during these challenging times.”

Since the program was designed to quickly get financial help to renters in most need, it allowed people to self-attest their rental debt. Going forward, submitted forms will be verified by multiple people before rental payments are authorized and the county will conduct background checks on anybody working for the program.

The new rules will add more time to the rental assistance payment process, but anyone who is facing eviction within 90 days or less will receive priority service.

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