Ex-Corona-Norco school district official sentenced to 2 years – San Bernardino Sun

Former Corona-Norco Unified Assistant Superintendent Ted Eugene Rozzi was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday, April 1, after admitting that he stole more than $1 million in taxpayer money.

Rozzi had pleaded guilty on July 30 to embezzlement by a public officer and misappropriation of public funds.

Rozzi, a Redlands resident, admitted to the two felony charges in the written plea deal. He had faced 31 felony counts, including money laundering and being a public official with a financial interest in a contract.

Before he was sentenced, Rozzi pulled an envelope from his jacket pocket containing a restitution check for $519,298.13. He handed it to defense attorney Eric D. Anderson, who handed it off to Deputy District Attorney Matt Murray, who delivered it to Judy Now, the school district’s chief of staff seated in the gallery.

Rozzi was then sentenced and led away by a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy.

He did not make a statement to the judge on his behalf.  Anderson had previously said in an interview that Rozzi was remorseful.

In a two-page victim impact statement that Now read to Judge John Molloy, she said in part: “Ted Rozzi could once be described as a trustworthy, renowned leader, even admired throughout the state in the realm of school construction. … Rozzi spent decades sitting at the same table with leaders who have given their lives, their careers to proudly serve the students and families of CNUSD. He broke the trust of not only his fellow leaders, but most importantly the trust of many families throughout our community.”

The plea document said Rozzi would be sentenced to two years on the embezzlement charge and two years in prison on the misappropriation charge, with the sentences to run at the same time. The home he owns in San Diego will be sold, and Rozzi will pay back the school district $1,176,956.50, the document said.

Rozzi was facilities director from January 2011 to May 2017. He worked for the district for 27 years.

Rozzi said in the plea document that he would contact Neff Construction, which had numerous contracts with the district, to shift public money from one district construction project to another via check. He would write his personal credit card account number on the check and deposit it in that account. When Neff sent paperwork to document the budget change, he would personally approve the change, sometimes overruling other employees, Rozzi admitted.

Rozzi’s scheme was discovered by accident. An employee found a check that appeared questionable and instead of asking supervisors about it, she walked straight over to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Norco station in the same block.

Court documents say that investigators determined that as much as $2.6 million was stolen from taxpayers.

The Riverside County Office of Education asked the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team, a state agency that works with schools, to examine the district’s fiscal practices. The probe found that the district failed to follow its policies and that its internal controls allowed Rozzi to operate with little oversight.

Neff’s Chief Executive Officer, Ed Mierau, had been charged with 19 felony counts, including misappropriation of public funds and money laundering. But Rozzi exonerated Mierau in his plea and all charges were dropped.

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