Background: San Benito County Board of Education President Mitchell Dabo on Nov. 13 was ordered to pay the Community Foundation for San Benito County $1.8 million after a Superior Court judge ruled that Dabo had drained a private charitable trust that had been designated for the foundation, and transferred more than $640,000 for his personal use.
Board members of the Community Foundation for San Benito County told the Free Lance that the last time they discussed their issues with Mitchell Dabo with District Attorney Candice Hooper, she advised them to contact the Hollister Police Department, to see if you had the resources to pursue an investigation of possible theft and fraud with regard to the Matulich Charitable Trust. This would have been in 2016.
Can you clarify your department’s role in this at this point, for our readers?
Our department was contacted by DA Hooper and advised of the allegations made against Mitch Dabo.
Chief [David] Westrick met with the detective sergeant at the police department and an investigator was tasked to look into the matter. The investigator spoke with an attorney for the San Benito Foundation and it was apparent very quickly that this type of case required an expert forensic analyst.
These type of embezzlement cases are routinely referred to a forensic accountant or a private investigator to produce the evidence needed in a criminal and civil case. The reason for this is because the department lacks the expertise and the resources to assign an investigator to a single case of this nature.
Often a complicated case like this would require hundreds if not thousands of hours of investigation involving search warrants, bank records and interviews of many witnesses and an understanding of what to look for. The department only has two detectives available to investigate cases in the City of Hollister.
Assigning an investigator to this one case would be at the detriment of all the other cases currently on the detectives caseload.
Are you investigating Mitchell Dabo for possible criminal behavior, in light of this weeks civil court ruling, and the mountain of evidence presented?
We have not received any new information or records since the recent civil case. However, if the foundation has a substantial amount of evidence produced through their own investigation, the case can be reviewed by the DA’s office to determine if there is sufficient evidence to achieve a criminal conviction. The evidence does not necessarily have to come to the police department first before charges are filed by the DA’s office.
Were you ever asked by the foundation or by the DA to investigate possible fraud and theft in connection with the Matulich Trust?
Yes as explained above, we were asked to investigate but a forensic analyst or forensic accountant is needed and the Hollister Police Department does not have anyone with that expertise.
Were you ever told by the DA not to pursue an investigation?
Did you request or consider a request to other agencies for assistance in this case?
Based on our experience, there are no other agencies that have taken cases of this nature in the past. The FBI have not considered them in the past when we have requested assistance. The CA Department of Justice likewise has in the past not considered cases of this type.
Did you investigate, and then drop it for lack of evidence or any other reason?
As mentioned above, the investigation faltered when the need for a forensic analyst was needed. However, the DA’s Office recently was able to contract with a Forensic Accountant Investigator for another large embezzlement case. It is possible this same investigator might be able to assist the DA’s office in this case and determine if there is sufficient evidence to charge Mitch Dabo in a criminal court.