News

Former ABAG official sentenced in $3.9 million embezzlement

By Julia Cheever | Bay City News Service

A former finance official with the Association of Bay Area Governments was sentenced in federal court in San Francisco on March 23 to one year and one day in prison for a fraud in which he admitted embezzling nearly $3.9 million in bond funds.

Clarke Howatt, 56, now of Portland, Oregon, was given the prison term by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who also ordered him to spend six months in home confinement after release from prison.

Mr. Howatt was formerly a financial services director in charge of bonds issued by an ABAG affiliate, the ABAG Finance Authority for Nonprofit Corporations, known as FAN.

ABAG, based in Oakland, is a regional planning agency for nine Bay Area counties.

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Mr. Howatt pleaded guilty before Judge Breyer in December to one count of wire fraud in the electronic transfer of $1.3 million in stolen funds, and admitted to other thefts, bringing the total amount embezzled to nearly $3.9 million between June 2011 and January 2015.

The stolen bond proceeds were related to the Rincon Hill highrise development in the South of Market District of San Francisco and the Windemere Ranch housing development in San Ramon.

The funds were intended to be used for public works such as streets, sidewalks and schools to offset the impacts of building developments.

At the time of his guilty plea, Mr. Howatt and his parents had repaid ABAG about $3.5 million and the agency was satisfied with that amount of restitution, according to court filings.

The maximum possible sentence for the fraud conviction was 20 years.

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In a sentencing brief asking for leniency, defense attorney Mary McNamara said Mr. Howatt was "deeply remorseful" and had suffered from manic phases of a bipolar disorder that was not treated with appropriate medication.

Prosecutors in an opposing brief unsuccessfully asked for a heavier sentence of three years and three months in prison. They wrote that Mr. Howatt deserved credit for cooperating in the investigation and seeking to pay restitution, but argued that despite any medical problems, his conduct showed "concerted and coordinated steps to achieve his goals" in the embezzlement over three and one-half years.

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Former ABAG official sentenced in $3.9 million embezzlement

Uploaded: Mon, Mar 28, 2016, 10:41 am

By Julia Cheever | Bay City News Service

A former finance official with the Association of Bay Area Governments was sentenced in federal court in San Francisco on March 23 to one year and one day in prison for a fraud in which he admitted embezzling nearly $3.9 million in bond funds.

Clarke Howatt, 56, now of Portland, Oregon, was given the prison term by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who also ordered him to spend six months in home confinement after release from prison.

Mr. Howatt was formerly a financial services director in charge of bonds issued by an ABAG affiliate, the ABAG Finance Authority for Nonprofit Corporations, known as FAN.

ABAG, based in Oakland, is a regional planning agency for nine Bay Area counties.

Mr. Howatt pleaded guilty before Judge Breyer in December to one count of wire fraud in the electronic transfer of $1.3 million in stolen funds, and admitted to other thefts, bringing the total amount embezzled to nearly $3.9 million between June 2011 and January 2015.

The stolen bond proceeds were related to the Rincon Hill highrise development in the South of Market District of San Francisco and the Windemere Ranch housing development in San Ramon.

The funds were intended to be used for public works such as streets, sidewalks and schools to offset the impacts of building developments.

At the time of his guilty plea, Mr. Howatt and his parents had repaid ABAG about $3.5 million and the agency was satisfied with that amount of restitution, according to court filings.

The maximum possible sentence for the fraud conviction was 20 years.

In a sentencing brief asking for leniency, defense attorney Mary McNamara said Mr. Howatt was "deeply remorseful" and had suffered from manic phases of a bipolar disorder that was not treated with appropriate medication.

Prosecutors in an opposing brief unsuccessfully asked for a heavier sentence of three years and three months in prison. They wrote that Mr. Howatt deserved credit for cooperating in the investigation and seeking to pay restitution, but argued that despite any medical problems, his conduct showed "concerted and coordinated steps to achieve his goals" in the embezzlement over three and one-half years.

Comments

Madeline Bernard
Monta Loma
on Mar 28, 2016 at 2:23 pm
Madeline Bernard, Monta Loma
on Mar 28, 2016 at 2:23 pm
23 people like this

Well thank goodness he didn't do anything that damaged society, like selling some fully cognizant adult a gram of coke. This guy gets a free $400,000 and we get one less school, but at least Real Criminals get their lives ruined with ludicrously long prison stays.


Ola Mountain Viewan
North Whisman
on Mar 28, 2016 at 2:24 pm
Ola Mountain Viewan, North Whisman
on Mar 28, 2016 at 2:24 pm
19 people like this

How could this man only get one year for this embezzlement....unbelievable. White collar crime, you have the money, you don't have to do the time.


Kathy
Sylvan Park
on Mar 28, 2016 at 3:45 pm
Kathy, Sylvan Park
on Mar 28, 2016 at 3:45 pm
14 people like this

"The Chronicle reported Howatt earned $149,294 in salary and had a total compensation package including benefits of $233,375. It said he was an art collector, ballet aficionado and owner of multiple properties."

Check out his new house purchased with embezzled CASH Web Link

..."according to public records, the Pacific City (OR) home was purchased in August for $1.53 million in cash...The Multiple Listing Service named the owner as Marshall and Taylor Holdings LLC. The California address listed by the LLC in Tillamook County tax records, however, corresponds with an Oakland address listed for Howatt in public records."

Disgusting.


psr
The Crossings
on Mar 28, 2016 at 4:03 pm
psr, The Crossings
on Mar 28, 2016 at 4:03 pm
16 people like this

This guy is a piece of work, but he probably did less damage with his theft than the ABAG people are doing to the communities in the Bay Area with their "requirements and recommendations". The end result of their work is the paving over of open land and the decline of the quality of life to the current residents. That's worth more than the $4 million this guy stole.


Disgusted
Martens-Carmelita
on Mar 28, 2016 at 6:29 pm
Disgusted, Martens-Carmelita
on Mar 28, 2016 at 6:29 pm
18 people like this

The white collar criminal ALWAYS has an excuse for bad behavior, and this creep got away with a massive crime because of his incorrectly treated bi-polar disorder? Well, his $400,000 profit he made after NOT being required to completely return what he embezzled - should ease his pain quite a bit.
This man carefully and deliberately planned and stole $3.8M from the public, and he gets a year and a day in prison? Good thing he wasn't a young kid who stole athletic shoes from a store - or he'd be spending a lot more time in confinement. The inconsistency in punishment in this country is sickening.
This judge should be disbarred, and this THIEF should do hard time for MANY DECADES in prison. What is wrong with our sense of justice here??


Reader
Waverly Park
on Apr 6, 2016 at 10:44 am
Reader, Waverly Park
on Apr 6, 2016 at 10:44 am
5 people like this

Ditto all of the above. Stealing $3.9 million gets you a year in prison, while drug users are in prison for who knows how long! And he gets to keep $400,000 of it? What's with that?!


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