BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer email@example.com
There were mixed emotions on all sides -- including the judge -- regarding the sentencing Wednesday of a father and daughter who embezzled more than a half-million dollars from a local builders group.
"I understand this in no way is a just sentence for the crimes committed," Judge Colette M. Humphrey said before sentencing Philip Field and Darlene Ocampo.
Field, 83, received 750 hours of community service and was ordered to pay restitution of $50,000 to the nonprofit Kern County Builders' Exchange, the group of which he was former executive manager.
Humphrey sentenced Ocampo, who pleaded no contest to each of the four felonies with which she was charged, to 10 years' probation, the first year of which must be served in jail. With time served, Ocampo will be behind bars for three months.
Humphrey also ordered Ocampo to pay restitution in the amount of $630,000 to Builders' Exchange.
If Ocampo violates probation, she'll have to serve the 12-year prison sentence that Humphrey stayed in her case because Ocampo has advanced breast cancer. Humphrey had indicated to the defendants at an earlier hearing that they would not receive prison time if they entered no-contest pleas.
Tony Marion, a member of the Builders' Exchange board of directors, said he's glad that both Field and Ocampo are now convicted felons, but he felt they both deserved prison time. He said the case had been a "long, drawn-out deal" and that it will be a long time before the Builders' Exchange is back to what it was.
What especially hurts is that Field was a good friend, Marion said.
"It took the wind out of all of us," he said of the embezzlement.
The Builders' Exchange is still discussing how to proceed with a civil suit the group filed against Field and Ocampo but expects to move forward with it, its attorney, Dennis Thelen, said earlier this week.
Field's family has argued that Field didn't do anything wrong and pleaded no contest to grand theft only to spare his daughter from going to prison. In criminal cases, a no-contest plea is effectively the same as pleading guilty.
Field's attorney, David A. Torres, called Field a "sacrificial lamb" who loves his daughter and didn't want her to serve a lengthy sentence. Torres said his client will carry out his community service with dignity.
"Mr. Field is a caring person. He has given a lot to Bakersfield," Torres said.
Prosecutor Greg Pulskamp said Field and Ocampo conspired together and both embezzled money from the organization. Pulskamp said he's satisfied the two have been held accountable, but has mixed feelings about the sentence.
"It really is an egregious, egregious case," he said.
Attorney Tony Lidgett represented Ocampo and asked that she not spend any time in custody and that she be allowed to have a checking account while on probation. Humphrey decided against both of those requests.
Field was executive manager of Builders' Exchange from 1975 until he was fired in August 2009. He had also been CEO of KCBEX, a business arm of the group.
According to the criminal complaint, Field and Ocampo opened multiple credit card accounts to incur personal expenses paid for by Builders' Exchange or KCBEX. Field gave Ocampo pre-signed checks to cover personal expenses, and the two falsified financial reports.
Pulskamp said Ocampo spent lavishly on cruises, jewely, vehicles, expensive dinners and other items. She made thousands of transactions using dozens of credit cards.
"This was very deliberate theft," he said.
Marion, one of the Builders' Exchange board members, said it disgusts him that Ocampo used the nonprofit's money on so many luxury items. He said her actions and those of her father devastated the group, but Builder's Exchange will continue.
"We will survive," he said.