Ex-symphony head charged with embezzlement

Hundreds of thousands of dollars missing from nonprofit's bank accounts

The former executive director of the Peninsula Symphony Association has been accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the decades-old Los Altos community orchestra.

Stephen Jay Carlton, a 45-year-old Novato resident, is facing multiple felony charges, including grand theft, embezzlement, forgery, identity theft and tax evasion. He faces up to 18 years in prison if he is convicted. He was arrested late last week.

Carlton came under suspicion in September 2013 after one of the association's board members was alerted that the 65-year-old nonprofit's funds were unusually low, according to a press release issued by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Carlton resigned shortly after board members brought the issue to the Los Altos Police Department, the press release said. One of the symphony's endowments dropped from $227,000 to $375; another was depleted by nearly $200,000 -- going from $195,000 to $395.

In a subsequent investigation, it was shown that Carlton had used association checks to pay himself, the press release details. He is accused of forging the signatures of two board members on a number of the checks, taking out an unauthorized $25,000 loan in the association's name and using the money to pay down personal debts.


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Posted by Leopard Man
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Mar 5, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Sounds like it's time for this guy to face the music.

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Posted by mug shot
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Is he in jail now? Allowed to go home to Novato? Does he own a home in Novato that the orchestra can seize? Please post his mug shot.

Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on Mar 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm

The Mercury News is currently (Wednesday evening) reporting that Carlson is being held in the Santa Clara County jail in lieu of $350,000 bail.

Primary residence is not an easy asset to seize, especially when he has not been proven guilty. The county would do any seizing, not the orchestra. The orchestra can file civil action against Carlson.

Today's announcement was from the county D.A., a criminal action.

Like this comment
Posted by hmm
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 6, 2014 at 4:20 pm

And how many are there that didn't get caught? The way the govt. keeps track, we will never know.

Like this comment
Posted by Mr Wannaknow
a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 7, 2014 at 10:32 am

Did he spend the $ on something usefull? Such as Dope and Whores???

Like this comment
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 13, 2014 at 1:39 pm

It is very unfortunate that this happened. However - all Directors of California non-profits are able to access ALL records of the corporation. A great oversight will entail monthly review of the records - particularly financial. Warning signs should always be met with 'unannounced' review of the corporate facilities and major accounts.
Review of documents does not need staff approval - or even 'majority-of-the-board' approval. This is enshrined in the Corporations Code of California. [limited exclusion for private medical records etc.]

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