Calif. President Confesses to Embezzlement

The frmr. president and treasurer of the Clovis Public Works Employees’ Assn. has admitted stealing $58,628 over 12 years.  In Feb., Robert Gilstrap claimed a balance of $55,536 in the union’s acct.  The union’s new treasurer, Ed Staub, now reports that the assn. has only $1,440 in the bank.

At the union’s June meeting, a letter from Gilstrap admitting to the embezzlement was read.  Over several years, he wrote checks for his personal use, as well as using the union’s credit card, and he falsified the union’s check register to cover up the theft.  While referring to his wife’s medical costs that were not covered by insurance, Gilstrap said that “this or any excuse is not justification for what I did.”

Gilstrap argued that if the union presses charges against him and he is sent to jail, he won’t be able to repay the stolen funds.  But at the June meeting, some members wondered how Gilstrap can repay that much money.  The union’s lawyer acknowledged that an audit is necessary to verify that Gilstrap did not take more money than he has admitted.  But at a cost of $3,000 to $4,000, the union can’t afford it.  And Clovis police are having trouble finding records as they investigate possible embezzlement charges against Gilstrap.  “[I]t is extremely time-consuming to try to track down the funds over this period of time,” said Clovis Police Dept. spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee.

Clovis City Mgr. Kathy Millison said that since Gilstrap’s misconduct apparently does not involve his work with the city, he will not be fired.  “The conduct in the private life of an employee has no connection or bearing on the duties and responsibilities in the job with the employer,” Millison said: “They are seen as totally separate universes.” [Fresno Bee, 6/27/03]