Thursday, April 9, 2009
Former State Bar Employee Charged With Embezzlement
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Attorney General Jerry Brown has filed seven criminal charges against a former State Bar employee from Oakland over her alleged embezzlement of $675,000 from the organization.
Brown filed one count of embezzlement and six counts of filing false tax returns against Sharon Elyce Pearl, 51, Monday in the Alameda Superior Court. She faces up to nine years in prison if convicted of all counts.
Pearl served as the State Bar’s director of real property, and was responsible for collecting rent from tenants who leased retail space in the building housing the association’s headquarters in San Francisco.
The complaint alleges Pearl directed tenants to make rent checks payable to “PLOT-The State Bar of California” as early as 2002, and deposited them into accounts held by the Piedmont Light Opera Theatre, upon which she was a signatory. She then allegedly transferred the funds to her personal bank account.
Brown said Pearl used the embezzled funds to pay for “spa treatments, designer clothes, lavish meals and fancy hotel rooms.”
In a release, he said the State Bar did not keep track of the rent payments it was owed and did not discover the embezzlement until Pearl requested a check for a tenant’s security deposit refund.
When no record indicating the State Bar actually received the deposit could be found, the organization launched an investigation which discovered Pearl was keeping two sets of books. The investigation was then referred to the Attorney General’s Special Crimes Unit for prosecution.
Pearl has agreed to surrender to authorities on Monday, Brown’s office said.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company