Wednesday, June 29, 2011

TurnKey Construction trial date delayed until January in California


Trial has been postponed yet again in an enormous embezzlement case against a former Santa Maria-Bonita School District employee and three ex-TurnKey Construction executives as efforts continue to settle the matter ahead of trial.

The trial was expected to start in July for the four defendants charged with taking more than $3.6 million in school construction funds in the early 2000s.
However, the trial date has been rescheduled for Jan. 17, 2012, said Deputy Attorney General Edward Skelly, one of the prosecutors assigned to the case.
“The judge is very anxious for us to settle the matter,” Skelly added.
Case attorneys previously have estimated that the trial could last up to six months.
Trial dates were scheduled starting last year, but a series of postponements has plagued the case.
The dates were pushed back when problems arose, such as some defendants were no longer financially able to pay for their own attorneys, or because efforts were being made to settle the case.
Those involved in the matter are next due back in court July 20 for a settlement conference before Superior Court Judge Brian Hill in Santa Barbara.
“We’re always optimistic about settlement, but we’re getting ready for trial in January,” Skelly said.
Charged in the matter are Cynthia Clark, the Santa Maria-Bonita School District’s former assistant superintendent of business; former TurnKey Chief Executive Officer Harold Clark III; ex TurnKey Vice President David Irwin and past TurnKey Chief Operating Officer Michael Bannan.
Cynthia Clark, who is not related to Harold Clark, oversaw invoices and payments made to TurnKey.
From 2000 to 2005, TurnKey managed multiple construction projects for the Santa Maria-Bonita district, which operates elementary and middle schools in the Santa Maria Valley.
During that time, the construction company signed $62 million in construction-management contracts with the district for the completion of 16 major projects. But in fall 2004, questions about TurnKey’s business practices began to surface.
The school district stopped all payments to the company, and an investigation began into the accounts, invoices and payments made to TurnKey.
As a result of the investigation, 74 criminal counts were filed against Cynthia Clark, Harold Clark and Bannan. Irwin faces fewer counts, but it is unclear how many.
Harold Clark, Bannan and Irwin are accused of taking the district's payments with Cynthia Clark's knowledge and keeping them for themselves and TurnKey, rather than paying their subcontractors.
The company declared bankruptcy in January 2005, and the Attorney General's Office filed charges in March 2008.
If convicted on all counts, Cynthia Clark, Harold Clark, Bannan and Irwin could face up to 38 years in prison.

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