Former Ross Valley Sanitary District general manager Brett Richards, who was last known to be in Florida, has been charged with nine felony counts surrounding a $350,000 housing loan he received from the district, allegedly inappropriately, and hasn’t repaid.
Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian said the misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement of public funds and money-laundering charges allege that Richards "misappropriated and diverted $350,000 loaned to him as part of his compensation package." Richards could face up to 10 years in prison and fines of $1.5 million if found guilty.
"The investigation to date has not developed any information that any other district employee or elected board member was complicit in the alleged illegal actions of Brett Richards," Berberian said.
Richards' whereabouts are unknown and a $1 million warrant for his arrest has been issued, according to Berberian. If anyone hasinformation about Brett Richards current location they can contact the Marin County District Attorney's Office at (415) 473-6450 and ask for the Chief Inspector RobGuidi of the Investigations Unit.
Richards abruptly resigned from his position on July 25 after the Marin Independent Journal questioned if he had properly used the loan – a search of California’s county recorder databases yielded no evidence he owns property in the state.
The Marin District Attorney launched an investigation into use of the housing loan and for a while it seemed Richards was living off the radar.
But last September, he started publishing posts on the blog Ross Valley Sewer Truth. The blog’s domain was registered in December 2011 under Brett Richards’ name, with a RVSD phone number and a San Rafael P.O. Box. He had been thinking about creating the blog for a while, he told Patch.
The blog, which has since been taken down, outlined, in first person, how Richards became the general manager for the RVSD in 2008 with a $197,000 annual salary. The blog never mentions Richards’ name, but does call out several local leaders.
The blog was also full of jabs at the Central Marin Sanitation Agency and other organizations, including the city of San Rafael, which the blog says “was incredibly hostile and went out of their way to block us from several scenarios” before the district moved to 2960 Kerner Blvd. in San Rafael.
Richards wrote that the blog was an “invitation” for the public to be the jury.
“Am I crazy? I hope you’ll read on and decide for yourself.”
The Ross Valley Sanitary District, which serves Fairfax, San Anselmo, Ross, Greenbrae and Larkspur, picked a new interim general manager in January 2013.
Finding an interim general manager took nearly six months for the sanitary district, which didn’t hire a head hunting consulting firm for the search.
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