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Cathedral City mayor pro tem charged with stealing public funds

April 09, 2013|By Richard Winton

Cathedral City Mayor pro tem Charles F. Vasquez was arrested and charged with stealing public funds, allegedly by using a program for computer purchases to buy MasterCard gift cards and other personal items.

Vasquez, 52, was charged with three felony counts of misappropriation of public funds in excess of $2,000. The councilman was arrested at his Cathedral City home Monday at about 9 p.m. by investigators with the Riverside County district attorney’s office.

He was being held at the Indio jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. 

Riverside County prosecutors are alleging Vasquez misused city funds provided to city employees and council members so they could purchase desktop computers, laptop computers or tablets.

Under the  program, they were loaned money at 6% interest to buy electronics but were required to get an invoice or price quote from a vendor and are then given a city check to use for the equipment purchase.

But prosecutors allege Vasquez used some of the funds from August 2011 to December 2012 for unauthorized personal items.

“It was discovered that, in December 2012, Vasquez was provided a city credit card for the purpose of purchasing a laptop and a tablet but instead used the credit card to purchase $2,028 in prepaid MasterCard gift cards,” said John Hall, a spokesman for D.A.'s office.

Prosecutors allege Vasquez submitted fraudulent invoices under the loan program and then used the loan proceeds to purchase unapproved personal items in addition to some computer equipment.

If convicted, Vasquez faces up to six years in prison.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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