A former program coordinator for a regional non-profit that provides services to developmentally disabled people was arrested Monday on suspicion of embezzling $400,000 from the organization's clients, Santa Rosa police said.
Larry Gene Sark, 66, of Santa Rosa is suspected of pocketing the money from 51 clients of the North Bay Regional Center over the course of several years since 2007, police said.
Sark, who retired in December 2012 as a client program coordinator, was arrested Monday and his home in Bennett Valley was searched on a warrant, police said.
The organization provides services and support to thousands of people diagnosed with developmental disabilities in Sonoma, Solano and Napa counties. Police said the organization is cooperating with the investigation.
Sgt. Phil Brazis said the police began investigating Sark last September, when they received a tip about Sark possibly having an inappropriate relationship with a client.
Brazis said police determined that no criminal conduct had taken place related to inappropriate behavior.
But the investigation triggered a North Bay Regional Center review of the client's file, which found that checks intended for the client had been deposited into Sark's personal bank account, Brazis said. With the help of police, the organization launched a more intensive investigation of Sark's previous clients.
“They realized this wasn't the only one,” Brazis said.
In all, 51 victims between the ages of 20 and 70 have been identified.
Police said they believe Sark requested client Social Security funds from the center on behalf of his client's. Police said in the statement that usually these funds, when requested by client program coordinators, were used to help clients “purchase personal and incidental items such as additional food, replacing a broken television, buying a movie ticket or buying clothing.”
Police said they believe Sark requested the checks, which numbered in the hundreds, without his client knowing about it and deposited the money in his own accounts.
After searching Sark's home in Bennett Valley, police said they suspect Sark used the money “on a lavish lifestyle” that included an Egyptian honeymoon, a trip to Las Vegas, a trip to a 4-Diamond golf excursion and several visits to pricey restaurants.
Police said Sark was booked into Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of fiduciary abuse of a dependent adult. His bail was set at $500,0000.
The police investigation was handed over to the Sonoma District Attorney's Office early last week, Brazis said.
Police ask that anyone with more information about the case contact Det. Matt Crosbie at (707)543-4078.
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or firstname.lastname@example.org