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City funds have gone missing in Montebello

February 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A probe has been launched into missing money from the Montebello City Treasury totaling more than a $1 million.

The city of Montebello still can't determine what happened to more than $1.2 million that it determined were in two city bank accounts. Now the Los Angeles County District Attorney is also asking about the off-the-books accounts, meaning they were not in the city records.

"Right now the preliminary findings we are doing in our own investigation doesn't seem to be any misappropriation of funds," said Montebello Mayor Art Barajas.

Ten years ago there was more than $1 million of city money in Union Bank. Nobody knew about it until someone found $5,000 interest in a city account. There also has been more than $240,000 deposited in another account at Banco Popular. Nobody knew about that until recently.

"It just seems that it was very bad book keeping at the time," said Barajas. "But we are certainly getting to the bottom of this,"

Union Bank doesn't keep the records after seven years, but there is some hope of finding out what happened to the $1 million. And maybe, who was involved.

"We are waiting to get that information from the bank, Union Bank," said Barajas in response to the question if there was a wire or paper trail.

The newest information on the $240,000 is that it was loaned to groups like the Elks Club. It now seems the money coming into the account was from payments on the loan.

"It was a surprise it was off the books and that is concerning," said Interim Manager Peter Cosentini. "But again this may have been just setup incorrectly and could otherwise be very normal transactions."

So far the district attorney is only conducting an inquiry. There is no formal investigation. But both the District Attorney and the city hope to find out how the money got into the accounts and how it got out.