An employee in the Kings County District Attorney’s office has been arrested and accused of theft and improper use of government funds and equipment.
Julia Patino, director of the Kings County District Attorney Victim Witness Program, allegedly took a county electric generator for personal camping trips with her family and racked up $20,000 in spending at Costco and Amazon on county credit cards.
Driving the News: The allegations came to light in February when Kings County Sheriff’s Office officials met with new Kings County District Attorney Sarah Hacker.
- According to KCSO officials, Patino’s misuse of the generator posed a potential threat to the county’s crime victims, as it would not have been available to them in case of a mass casualty incident.
- Detectives have been able to recover some of the items purchased, but some are still missing, including 72 boxes of Kleenex, two dog baths, three men’s grooming kits, one six-foot folding bench, six easel pads, five tablecloths, and two stainless dog bowls.
- KCSO executed a search warrant at Patino’s Visalia home on May 10, after which she was arrested and issued a citation for misappropriating public funds. The case will be forwarded to the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
- District Attorney Hacker has ordered a review of all office policies and procedures to ensure that all employees are held to the highest standards of conduct. Patino has been placed on administrative leave, according to the DA’s office.
A twist of fate: Patino and another Kings County D.A. employee filed the complaints with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing against their new boss, Hacker, dating back to an alleged conversation in January regarding her predecessor, Keith Fagundes.
- Patino filed her complaints through Visalia law firm Melo and Sarsfield, the same attorneys who represented Fagundes in his sexual harassment case from 2021.
- Patino later said she has been encouraging and supporting another complaining employee, which led to her being placed on administrative leave and retaliated against. She was later placed on medical leave after seeking guidance from a physician.
What they’re saying: , “We will be reviewing all policies and procedures to ensure that we have the proper checks and balances in place to prevent this from happening in the future,” Hacker said in a statement. “We take our responsibility to the public very seriously, and we will not tolerate any behavior that undermines that responsibility.”
- “When one of our own is accused of violating that trust, it is incumbent upon us to act swiftly and decisively,”