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 Post subject: Re: Theater Investigated -- Director Suspended - DA Opens Cr
PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2004 9:05 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
The letter by David Baker, Scott Denison's accountant, is unfortunate and misguided. This written public statement can now be used as evidence to support a community-wide cover up and an atmosphere of threat to whistle-blowing employees.

Typically, in cases like this, there are other government and public agencies who keep a watchful eye on the investigation. If it appears the City has not done its job, they can and will open a new, far-more in-depth investigation.

They have. The Senior DA has subpoenaed the city and is intent on conducting a far-reaching criminal inquiry. The City officials involved in the initial investigation will themselves be investigated, as I predicted several weeks ago (see above):

Quote:
Arts center practices prompt inquiry

By Theresa Harrington
CONTRA COSTA TIMES

Senior deputy district attorney Jim Sepulveda said Thursday that he has opened an investigation into possible criminal activity at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

...Sepulveda said he sent a letter to the city attorney Tuesday requesting documents related to the center. He said he intends to interview about 10 to 20 city employees and people in the arts community to determine if any crimes occurred.

...Sepulveda listed embezzlement, misuse of public funds and grand theft.

<a href=http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/8611547.htm target=_blank>more</a>


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 Post subject: Re: Theater Investigated -- Director Suspended - DA Opens Cr
PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2004 4:28 pm 
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Posts: 39
Another letter to the editor of the Contra Costa Times - you can't make this stuff up. What are people smoking in CC County? :confused:

LETTERS TO THE CONTRA COSTA TIMES

Great arts, not so great accounting

Walnut Creek's arts department manages a great arts program, not a great accounting program. In years past, the city's leadership (including me) trusted the people who managed the program. Your article on the Lesher Center wrongly suggests that trust was misplaced.

Accountants found the center ripe for fraud. Scott Dennison managed that "cookie jar" for 14 years, and underpaid $800 for his daughter's wedding reception. Fantasy Forum, a fine repertory group managed by Dennison's wife (a fine actress) underpaid rent by $3,000. Fraud? Context, please. The $3,800 wouldn't be sales tax on the $90,000 the accountants got paid. Millions are spent in the center each year.

I'm all for proper accounting controls. But it's silly to portray Scott Dennison and Peggy White as cheap cheats. Both have spent years helping the arts. The DRAA under White raises and gives arts programs hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly.

This little farce suggests someone believes the Lesher Center's biggest need is better accounting. Arts organizations could use $90,000 for artists, marketing and other needs. Please improve the accounting quietly so you don't interrupt the singing and acting. People don't come to the center to watch beans being counted.

Bill Armstrong

Walnut Creek

Armstrong is the former mayor of Walnut Creek and the former president of the Regional Center for the Arts.


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 Post subject: Re: Theater Investigated -- Director Suspended - DA Opens Cr
PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 6:58 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 589
Location: SF
From the Contra Costa Times,

Quote:
Address money issues, but work to preserve the arts

THE BEST DRAMA in town is playing behind the scenes at the city's renowned arts organizations.
Click for more


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 Post subject: Re: Theater Investigated -- Director Suspended - DA Opens Cr
PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 10:43 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2002 11:01 pm
Posts: 39
A quote from the above editorial:

Quote:
Certainly the city can't sweep the financial situation at the Regional Center under its rugs.
Can't? They've done nothing but......perhaps the pressure from the DA will change that.


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 Post subject: Re: Theater Investigated -- Director Suspended - DA Opens Cr
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2004 7:34 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 589
Location: SF
From the Contra Costa Times,

Quote:
OUR READERS SAY
Kudos for Regional Center for the Arts Recently, the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts has received some undeserved and inaccurate bad publicity.
Click for more


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 Post subject: Re: Theater Investigated -- Director Suspended - DA Opens Cr
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2004 2:12 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2002 11:01 pm
Posts: 39
Quote:
Recently, the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts has received some undeserved and inaccurate bad publicity.
Statements like these drive me nuts. I hate it when people muddle the issues. Most everyone is in agreement that the Arts Center and the DRAA have benefited the community in countless ways.

That isn't the point of the on going investigation. The issue is bad management and fraudulent practices that have already been proven to have taken place. The bigger issue, really, is why the City of Walnut Creek hasn't fired the Center Manager and what the Board of Directors at the DRAA is going to do about their Executive Director. Who's going to donate money to a tainted organization? Not me.

Trixie


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 Post subject: Re: Theater Investigated -- Director Suspended - DA Opens Cr
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 1:18 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
The investigation by the County has concluded with a charge on one misdemeanor count:

Quote:
Arts venue manager charged

Erin Hallissy, SF Chronicle

The longtime manager of the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek was charged Thursday with one misdemeanor count of conflict of interest for contracting with a small local production company that employed two of his relatives. <a href=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/07/23/BAGIT7RSVH1.DTL target=_blank>more</a>
The important things to note in the results of the investigation are:

1. The manager was indeed found to have committed acts that are illegal according to the Calfornia State Government Code;

2. The charge carries with it a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine;

3. HOWEVER, because the manager committed the illegal acts openly and with full knowledge of the City government, it was concluded that he did not act surreptitiously;

4. THEREFORE, the charges of fraud, criminal intent or moral turpitude were dropped;

5. AND, the County DA will not seek incarceration during sentencing (however, keep in mind the offence is serious enough that it comes with a possible six-month jail term, longer than Martha Stewart's term).


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 Post subject: Re: Theater Investigated -- Director Suspended - DA Opens Cr
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2004 2:35 pm 
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Posts: 39
Quote:
3. HOWEVER, because the manager committed the illegal acts openly and with full knowledge of the City government, it was concluded that he did not act surreptitiously;
Hmmmm....let's all remember this example in case any one of us here gets into trouble with the law.......

And a new wrench has been thrown into the situation:

Six DLRCA employees file lawsuit


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 Post subject: Re: Theater Investigated -- Director Suspended - DA Opens Cr
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2004 7:11 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
That bothers me too, especially when coupled with this assertion in the claims filed by the center's employees on Friday:

Quote:
The employees allege Denison threatened their safety by displaying weapons in his office.
This is a penal offense if true, which also means that if the City manager, investigators and employees knew about this, then they are accessories after the fact and possibly accomplices in the cover up.


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 Post subject: Re: Theater Investigated -- Director Suspended - DA Opens Cr
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2004 8:42 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Oh dear. I also noticed this in the article:

Quote:
Although they expected their concerns to remain confidential, they allege that city officials revealed their identities to Denison by October...
This allegation is very serious. If true, then the city officials are indeed accomplices and can conceivably themselves be charged and sentenced to jail terms. If not, the claimants can find themselves guilty of libel.


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 Post subject: Re: Theater Investigated -- Director Suspended - DA Opens Cr
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2004 8:05 pm 
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Posts: 39
Ouch those slaps on the hand must be hurting by now.

Arts Manager pleads no contest

And it ain't over til it's over(who is running the City of Walnut Creek? Very "3 Stooges" like)

Impending Lawsuit


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 Post subject: regional Center
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:41 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:26 pm
Posts: 3
Location: california
Hey everyone! Just found this web site. Have been catching up on all the comments. I'm very interested in this venue. It sounds as if all of you are very familiar with what goes on there. I know quite a few people there, and I can tell you it's not a healthy place. Those folks who want the best for the Center have and continue to be vilified. If you want change and want the Center to succeed, please keep the conversations going. They need the City Council to know the truth. Producers have kept quiet for too long. With numbers the producers can make change happen and everyone will thrive.


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