An unexpected guest showed up to a fundraiser breakfast Saturday at Rohnert Park’s fire station No. 2 to benefit Cotati-Rohnert Park Project Graduation.
The guest was Santa Rosa attorney Don Edgar, who is representing Mary David, Project Graduation’s former treasurer who is accused of embezzling at least $37,000 from February 2015 to April 2017.
Edgar was there to drop off a check written for $40,000 — funds cobbled together by the 37-year-old David’s family members in the wake of her April 13 arrest.
When Kathy Robinson, president of Project Graduation, saw Edgar walk up the driveway to the fire station about 10 a.m. she was “shocked.”
“Not too many people knew that he showed up,” she said. “I saw him walking up, and I just walked up to him and said, ‘Mr. Edgar, I’m Kathy Robinson,’ and I think I asked him if there was something I could help him with. He said he had something for me, and he pulled out an envelope.”
The check in the envelope was written from his firm’s client trust account and addressed to “Cotati-Rohnert Park Project Graduation.” A copy provided to The Press Democrat by Edgar shows the check dated May 13 in the amount of $40,000. No final amount of how much was embezzled from the organization has been released, but a series of 41 checks David wrote to herself — either pre-signed by past-president Summer Keith, Edgar said, or forged with her name — total $37,195.
“It’s our best estimate of what money is missing,” Edgar said in an interview. “Our client feels badly about what happened, and she wants to return the money.”
A call to the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety, which is handling the embezzlement investigation, was not returned.
“We want to do everything we can to try to make Project Grad whole, and we wanted to do it as soon as possible,” Edgar said of why he chose to deliver the check at the fundraiser breakfast. “If we could’ve done it a week before, we would have done it a week before.”
He said David spent the money on “junk clothes.”
“There’s no jewelry,” he said. “There’s no household electronics or furniture or anything like that. There’s no vacations. There’s no expensive hotel stays. There’s no restaurants. She had a — she developed a spending problem.”
He characterized it as a coping mechanism in lieu of treatment for mental health disorders including anxiety and depression.
Separately, Project Graduation has been raising funds on a GoFundMe page, as well as a link on its website and with help from the Rohnert Park Public Safety Officers Association. After the fundraiser breakfast Saturday, organizers handed Project Grad a check for $27,714. In all, more than $74,000 has been raised since David’s arrest, exclusive of Saturday’s surprise check.
The check Edgar delivered was taken into evidence by investigators, Robinson said, and the funds won’t be accessible for this year’s celebration, scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. June 2. David’s next hearing is scheduled for June 1.
The organization is well-equipped financially to handle the graduation night party, which typically costs between $32,000 and $35,000 to put on. What the organization needs is volunteers to help staff the all-night event, which more than 200 graduating seniors from Rancho Cotate, Technology, El Camino, Phoenix and Credo high schools are expected to attend.
Officials encourage anyone who has information about the work of Goodwin Millworks or AJI Construction, to contact CSLB Investigator Amanda Martinez at Amanda.Martinez@cslb.ca.gov or 510-540-2024.