NewsLocal News


Santa Maria man who embezzled from county union fund sentenced to 11 years

Santa Barbara County District Attorney
Posted at 7:31 PM, Jul 06, 2023

A Santa Maria man who pleaded guilty to embezzling over $600,000 from his union’s bank account where he also served as president was sentenced to 11 years in prison, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Manuel Edward Torres, 67, pleaded guilty to a felony theft-of-public-funds charge in April.

Torres, who served as a deputy probation officer for Santa Barbara County, embezzled roughly $635,000 of public funds from the Santa Barbara County Probation Peace Officer Association (SBCPPOA). Torres was president of the association for over 20 years.

Funds stolen from the SBCPPOA bank account were dues contributed from members’ paychecks. Torres embezzled those funds over a span of 10 years — from Jan. 1, 2009, to June 30, 2019.

Torres was ordered to pay $1,072,654 in restitution to the SBCPPOA and $328,345 in restitution to the California Franchise Tax Board, the DA’s Office said.

Torres had to sell his home to help pay the restitution orders, the DA’s Office said.

Charges were originally filed in July 2020 after a year-long investigation by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

The District Attorney’s investigation followed a review of Torres’ financial records by the probation department shortly after his retirement. That review uncovered potential embezzlement.