|District Attorney Files Criminal Complaint
Against Parin Shaw
February 13, 2009
The Richmond City Attorney’s office advised City Manager Bill Lindsay this morning that the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint against former Mayoral aide Parin Shaw. Shaw was charged with two felonies: violation of Penal Code section 424 (theft of public money), and of Penal Code section 470(b) (forgery). The District Attorney expects that Shaw will surrender himself early next week, at which point he will be arraigned. The District Attorney expects that Shaw will be released on his own recognizance following the arraignment.
For background, see the following article from August 19, 2008, Contra Costa Times:
Former Richmond mayor's aide being investigated
A former aide to Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin is under investigation in the possible misuse of city-issued credit cards to give $50,000 to a San Francisco nonprofit group without permission.
The Contra Costa County district attorney's office is investigating whether former aide Parin Shah broke city rules by using two city credit cards over a few months from late 2007 to early this year to give money to Community Toolbox for Children's Environmental Health in San Francisco, said mayor's aide Marilyn Langlois. Shah was an executive director for the Community Toolbox before he came to Richmond.
An appropriate invoice was not submitted, Langlois said. Invoices were submitted for money to other groups, which did not appear to receive funding, she said.
"The whole situation was extremely disturbing coming from someone I considered a trusted aide," McLaughlin said. "In this case, our internal audits worked."
City leaders say they will try to recover the $50,000, possibly through a lawsuit.
Shah resigned this year and no longer works for the city. He was reached Tuesday between meetings and did not return a requested phone call. His attorney, Harold Rosenthal of Berkeley, responded that he is looking into the matter. His only comment was that the charges seemed "out of character" for his client.
Deputy district attorney Steve Bolen confirmed an investigation is under way, but he declined to discuss details. He expects the investigation to conclude in about a month.
The city of Richmond issues credit cards to some employees to cover expenses related to city business, such as office supplies, travel costs and equipment parts. Employees typically may spend no more than $3,000 per transaction and $10,000 per billing cycle. They must submit receipts or invoices. The city's finance division checks whether purchases match the invoices.
In mid-February, the division noticed a discrepancy in Shah's credit card use and alerted McLaughlin. She notified the city manager and city attorney. The city then contacted the district attorney's office.
The money in question came from a special discretionary fund allocated to the mayor's office that is comprised of donations collected from mayoral fundraisers. McLaughlin said she had planned to hold a fundraiser to train city residents for green jobs and other initiatives.
Shah submitted his resignation in January and planned to leave Feb. 22. McLaughlin said she made his resignation effective Feb. 14 after the investigation began.
Shah was the primary person dealing with expenses at the mayor's office and was supposed to obtain mayoral authorization before making purchases, McLaughlin said.
After his departure, McLaughlin said she altered procedures so that more than one staffer oversees expenses in her office.
"We have more eyes on the records now," McLaughlin said.
Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or firstname.lastname@example.org.