Tens of thousands of dollars have been allegedly stolen in an embezzlement case that has rocked the San Benito County Free Library, according to authorities.
The allegations first surfaced in 2023, followed by library staff resigning en masse, including long-time county librarian Nora Conte, who announced her retirement in early May last year.
The full amount of embezzled funds is still being investigated, but could number into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to San Benito County Sheriff Eric Taylor. The FBI is currently working the case alongside the sheriff’s office.
“We brought in the FBI as we do not have a forensic accounting investigator… Based on the complexity of the scheme, we needed their expert opinion and investigation,” Taylor said in an email.
In the spring of 2023, The San Benito County Auditor’s office, during a routine audit, came across suspicious activity on an account connected to the library. Upon further investigation, they found potential criminal activity and tipped off the authorities, having zeroed in on one individual, Taylor said.
The name of the main suspect has not been released, but Taylor said it is a former library employee who was part of the cohort that resigned in May 2023. The sheriff’s office is also looking into a family member’s possible involvement. Taylor stressed that former county librarian Nora Conte is not under criminal investigation.
“This is a very complex scheme and we are making sure we cover all bases prior to closing it and making an arrest. I know this is a frustration for the community as they would like to see some closure… I can assure this community that we are doing everything we can to resolve this as quickly as possible while making sure we don’t miss any important details or any theft that would further victimize the residents of this county,” Taylor said.