For release on March 5, 2014   CONTACT: Judy Lee, Deputy District Attorney Major Fraud Unit (408) 792-2798   MAN CHARGED WITH SIPHONING SYMPHONY FUNDS   The former executive director of the Peninsula Symphony Association faces multiple felony charges for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars and leaving the 65-year-old cultural institution in danger of going silent.   Stephen Jay Carlton, 45, of Novato, faces charges of grand theft, embezzlement, forgery, identity theft, and tax evasion. If convicted, Carlton faces up to 18 years in prison. In custody on $350,000 bail, Carlton’s next court date is April 8 in Department 85 in Palo Alto Superior Court.   Saved through donations, many given by the volunteer organization’s own board members and musicians, the popular Symphony survived and is halfway through a full musical season.   “Thanks to the joint efforts by the Los Altos police and the state Franchise Tax Board the crime was solved very quickly given the complexity of the crime,” prosecutor Judy Lee said. “It is important for organizations to make sure that they have a robust set of checks and balances protecting their vital finances.”   The crime against the classical symphony’s coffers was uncovered in September of last year when a bank alerted a board member that the non-profit’s funds were showing an unusually low balance. Symphony officials brought the issue to local police. Carlton resigned soon afterward.   An investigation showed that Carlton had written numerous checks to himself from Symphony funds. He had used some of the money to pay off personal debts.   Carlton is accused of forging the signatures of two board members on several of the checks and taking out an unauthorized $25,000 loan on behalf of the Symphony.   One symphony endowment went from $227,000 to $375; another, from $195,000 to $395. Carlton was arrested and arraigned late last week.   # # #

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