1 current, 1 former cop accused of stealing $100,000

Offc. Marco Ybarra and Manuel Villagrana are accused of embezzling more than $100,000.

October 4, 2011 5:59:31 PM PDT
The San Jose Police Department is reeling from the news that a current officer and a recently fired officer have been arrested for stealing money from a charity.

Officer Marco Ybarra and former Officer Manuel Villagrana are accused of embezzling more than $100,000 from a scholarship fund for students.

Police say they feel angry and let down that they had to take two of their own into custody Tuesday morning in connection with an embezzlement scheme that investigators say went on for years. What's worse they say, is that it bankrupted the founding chapter of a nearly 40-year-old organization that raises money to put kids through college.

Tuesday, police showed ABC7 the court papers alleging the two men stole $120,000 over the course of four years. They were the chapter president and treasurer of the local Latino Peace Officers' Association, which for years gave out thousands of dollars in scholarships to college freshmen.

But in 2009, the chapter gave out no scholarships -- that's when police officers started asking questions. The chapter had moved out of its physical office, disconnected its phone line, and completely run out of money.

Investigators discovered the two men had been making large cash withdrawals and writing checks to themselves instead of to colleges and universities.

Investigators didn't want to believe it at first -- and the national association calls it embarrassing.

"We were hoping it was just going to be one of those things where they were good at raising money for charity but really bad at accounting, but the more we got into it and the more bank records we looked at, the worse it looked, and this ultimately led to the arrest of these two individuals," San Jose Police Lt. Dave Storton said.

Police say officer Ybarra was arrested Tuesday morning when he reported for duty and he and Villagrana were booked into jail.

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