Local News

Monday, Sep 23 2013 01:43 PM

Treasurer of police benefit association accused of stealing $45,000

BY STEVE LEVIN, Californian staff writer, slevin@bakersfield.com

The former treasurer of the Bakersfield Police Benefit Association was accused Monday of stealing about $45,000 from the employee-based nonprofit during a three-year period.

Three felony counts of grand theft were filed by the Kern County District Attorney’s office against Amy Christine Powers, 40, formerly of Bakersfield.

Powers was accused of embezzling the money from the association between January 2008 and early 2013. During that time she also worked for the Bakersfield Police Department until February, most recently as senior police records clerk.

Powers, who now lives out of state, is expected to turn herself in at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at Kern County Superior Court, the District Attorney’s office said.

Powers could not be reached for comment.

According to Kern County sheriff’s investigators, Powers was assigned a VISA credit card for business purchases while serving as the association’s treasurer. Investigators allege she used the card for personal trips and to purchase awards for different rodeo associations. Reimbursements went into her personal account for truck repairs and work on her horse trailer, authorities allege.

Investigators also allege Powers took change from the association’s vending machines for her personal account.

The investigation into Powers began in 2012 after a Police Benefit Association election brought in a new treasurer, said Gregory A. Pulskamp, the Kern County deputy district attorney prosecuting the case.

“You get in a new person and they’re trying to learn the job and in the process of doing that some discrepancies were brought to people’s attention,” Pulskamp said.

He said Powers faces a maximum sentence of four years plus four months, in addition to repaying any money taken.

Bakersfield police began the investigation; the District Attorney’s office began its investigation earlier this year.

According to the nonprofit’s tax filing for 2010, the latest year filed, it had net assets of more than $317,000. Its activities include crime prevention and an annual Bakersfield Police Memorial Run to raise college tuition funds to assist the children of officers killed in the line of duty.

Amber Sikola-Rodrigues’ father, William, was a Bakersfield police officer who died in a motorcycle accident when she was 1.

When it came time for her to attend college — her brother and sister, too — the Bakersfield Police Benefit Association provided reimbursement for tuition, books and classes.

“It’s hard to take in,” Sikola-Rodrigues, now 31 and married and living in Bakersfield, said after learning of the charges against Powers. “They’re raising money that is going to children of fallen officers who grew up without a parent.

“Taking money from this organization, it’s hard to wrap my mind around it.”

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