For release on April 19, 2012   CONTACT PERSON
John Chase, Deputy District Attorney
Public Integrity Unit

  After a two-and-a-half year joint investigation with the U.S. Department of Labor, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint this week charging two former officials of the Mexican American Community Services Agency (“MACSA”) with felony grand theft. The charges are based on their illegal diversion of more than $1 million required to be paid to employee retirement accounts.   The defendants, Olivia Soza-Mendiola, 53, of San Jose, and Benjamin Tan, 61, of South San Francisco, served as MACSA’s CEO and CFO respectively. From 2004 to 2009, they used money that was supposed to be paid to employee retirement accounts to pay other MACSA expenses. They did this knowing that the employees’ paycheck stubs falsely represented that this money was being paid to the retirement accounts. If convicted, the defendants face a sentence of up to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine. They will be ordered to pay full restitution to the employees who lost their retirement funds.   “The victims were dedicated, hard-working employees who truly believed in MACSA’s mission in the community. Many of them would have donated their own money to help MACSA out, if needed,’’ said John Chase, the prosecutor who heads the D.A.’s Public Integrity Unit. “For the leaders of MACSA to spend the employees’ retirement money on other things behind their backs is inexcusable.”    The filing of this complaint culminates an extensive investigation involving interviews of dozens of witnesses, reviews of more than 400,000 pages of seized documents and forensic searches through more than 5,000,000 computer files.   "This case represents our commitment to aggressively investigate conduct aimed at stealing workers' hard-earned retirement savings,” said Jean Ackerman, Regional Director of the Employee Benefits Security Administration's San Francisco Regional Office. “It is an excellent example of federal and county authorities working together.”  

©2024 County of Santa Clara. All rights reserved.