San Benito County District Attorney Candice Hooper told us this week that her forensic accountant has finished his examination of bank records of the Matulich Charitable Trust, and that she has forwarded the case back to Hollister Police “for further investigation” of possible criminal charges against Mitchell Dabo. Dabo had been the appointed trustee of the trust.
If this sounds familiar, you’re right.
Back in November, Hooper had sent a “raw” version of the same evidence to Hollister Police for investigation. These were documents that had been provided to the court by Dabo himself, as part of the discovery process in a lawsuit brought against Dabo by the San Benito County Community Foundation.
A Superior Court judge in November ruled that this evidence, plus other documents supplied by the foundation, affirmed the foundation’s claim that Dabo had violated California probate laws when he transferred more than $640,000 from a charitable trust to his personal accounts.
The judge ruled that Dabo had systematically drained all of the funds from the Matulich Charitable Trust for his own purposes, depriving non-profits of money for community services, and ordered Dabo to pay the foundation $1.74 million in damages. The judgment has not yet been paid,
In November, Hooper said she couldn’t make a determination of whether to pursue possible criminal charges against Dabo until police had first investigated the case. In early January, police passed the documents and possibly other evidence back to Hooper, saying they had concluded their investigation.
Then the district attorney assigned a special forensic accountant to look at the bank documents, which had been assembled in a binder for the Superior Court civil trial.
Two months later, the evidence, coupled with a forensic accountant’s analysis, is back in the hands of the police, who have reopened the investigation at Hooper’s request.
The evidence that was revealed at the civil trial—much of it provided by Dabo and uncontested by him—was pretty clear cut: massive transfers of funds out of the charitable trust to Dabo’s personal or business account, checks written by Dabo for his own investments and, in one instance, a $20,000 check made out to cash and signed by Dabo.
These new developments are good news for anyone concerned about justice in this case. The case, by all accounts, is alive and well. The district attorney has not decided to drop an investigation, and she is asking Gilroy police to come up with some more evidence to bolster her case against Dabo—perhaps interviewing the former county school board president himself?
For Dabo, it’s been business as usual: preparing tax returns and selling insurance out of the office next to the liquor store formerly owned by his mother.
In December, he did not seek reelection by fellow trustees to his position as president of the San Benito County Board of Education Board of Trustee, but retained his trustee post. He had told county school Supt. Krystal Lomanto that he would be resigning his seat on the board, without giving a date. He still sits on the board, and has given no indication whether he will actually resign. He has until the end of July to decide whether to seek reelection to his board seat.
The school board continues to treat him with kid gloves, as a trusted colleague. The very meaning of “trustee”—one occupying a position of trust—comes from its first syllable. As hard as it may be to comprehend, given his admissions about the illegal transfers of charitable trust money, his fellow trustees have never asked Dabo to resign.
Thankfully, law enforcement continues to take a more hard line.