Aug 5, 2016

Ex assistant court operations manager taken into custody after being sentenced this morning

Visiting Judge Leslie Nichols said, "I think your failure to take accountability was reprehensible because your fellow workers were under suspicion."

He referred to his comments at the last court hearing about "wanting there to be some meaningful punishment."

In a letter from Humboldt Superior Court CEO, Ms. Kim Bartelson she described in detail the effect on innocent citizens. Among the funds taken were funds people used to pay their traffic fines; one person had a warrant issued but fortunately Court Operations was able to find record of the payment.

"I think it is important for the defendant to not just walk out of this courtroom feeling embarassed that this came out," said Deputy District Attorney Nina Elisseou. "People want her to see the four corners of that cell and reflect that many innocent people who fulfilled their obligation to pay their debt" were impacted by her actions.

"It took her well over 8 years to take accountability for this; it was dragged out longer than necessary."

DA Press Release (4:45 p.m.)
District Attorney’s News Release

For Immediate Release

August 5, 2016
District Attorney Maggie Fleming announced today that Socorro Cervantes was sentenced to serve 365 days in jail and, five years of felony probation, and victim restitution of $95,964, for the crime of embezzlement.   The hearing took place today before the Honorable Leslie C. Nichols, a judge from Santa Clara County.
Cervantes committed the crime while she was employed as an Assistant Court Manager at the Humboldt County Superior Court, a position from which she resigned in 2009. In October 2008, at the Humboldt County Superior Court, a cash payment went missing. This prompted internal and criminal investigations into the matter. The investigations showed that payments from defendants in traffic and criminal cases had not been entered into the court’s case management systems. The investigations showed that $95,964 was missing from about 200 cases. Based on the results of these investigations, and overwhelming circumstantial evidence pointing to her guilt, Cervantes was indicted for embezzlement by a grand jury. Cervantes pled guilty to the embezzlement on June 3, 2016.
At sentencing, a representative of the Court Administrative Offices was present, and a victim-impact statement from the Court Executive Officer was read aloud by the prosecution. The defendant submitted a written statement admitting to wrongdoing and apologizing to the Court and to the public.
Immediately following the sentencing, Cervantes was remanded into the custody of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department.  The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Nina Elisseou and Christopher Yi, and defended by Attorney Glenn Brown.

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