SEDC Felons: Checking Up

SEDC Felons: Checking Up

File photo by Sam Hodgson

Former SEDC finance director Dante Dayacap, his attorney Marc Carlos and former SEDC president Carolyn Y. Smith appeared in court in November. Dayacap and Smith pleaded guilty to embezzlement. (File photo)

 

As part of my effort to check up on a few of the biggest stories I’ve worked on in the last year or so, I’ve been making some calls about former redevelopment officials Carolyn Y. Smith and Dante Dayacap.

Those are the two former officials who last year pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $435,000 from the Southeastern Economic Development Corp., the agency once tasked with revitalizing some of southeastern San Diego’s most blighted neighborhoods.

Dayacap and Smith’s shenanigans were uncovered after a Voice of San Diego investigation revealed Smith had paid herself and her staff hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret bonuses. The officials were investigated by the FBI and were eventually charged by the state attorney general.

Where We Left It

Smith and Dayacap pleaded guilty last November and were sentenced in January. They were ordered to pay the city of San Diego a total of $435,018 in restitution for the money they embezzled.

The judge didn’t sentence the defendants to any jail time, opting instead to issue the hefty fine. But there was a big catch: Dayacap and Smith only have to pay back the city at a rate of $100 a month each.

At that rate, to fully pay the city back, both would have to live until 2193. Put another way, if each lives another 30 years, the city will recover a total of $36,000, or about 8 percent of what it is owed.

The sentence angered a lot of our readers at the time, and I wrote a couple of stories examining how, exactly, the city could go about getting paid back sooner.

The City Attorney’s Office and the County Probation Department both told me at the time that they would be fully investigating Smith and Dayacap’s finances to see if either has assets that can be seized by the city as payment for their crimes.

What’s Happened Since:

There has been one major step forward.

The first step in seeking quicker repayment from Smith and Dayacap was for the city to get a civil judgment against the defendants. That’s happened. On March 13, the City Attorney’s Office received a document called an “abstract of judgment” from the court. That entitles the city to begin taking action against the defendants in civil court.

The matter is now in the hands of an investigator at the City Treasurer’s Office, said Jonathan Heller, spokesman for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. The investigator will be looking into Smith and Dayacap’s finances to see if there are any assets the city can seize in order to get paid back quicker.

“The internal process is geared towards finding the assets before they can be moved,” Heller said. “To the extent that we can accelerate the recovery of the city’s money, that’s our goal.”

The county’s chief probation officer, Mack Jenkins, said his department continues to investigate Dayacap and Smith’s finances. Jenkins said if his investigators discover that the defendants have the ability to pay more than $100 a month, they will ask the judge to increase the payment amount.

What the Judge Says

I also called Judge Edward P. Allard III to talk about the sentencing.

Allard told me he believes the sentence was both fair and severe enough for the crimes committed. He said the public often doesn’t appreciate the burden that comes with having a felony conviction.

“They’ve lost their jobs, and their prospects for future jobs and they have to pay this amount of restitution. If that’s not a deterrent, I don’t know what is,” Allard said.

Asked about the $100 a month figure, Allard said he chose that amount based on his knowledge of both defendants’ finances. The information he had before him was that Dayacap and Smith were both essentially broke, he said.

“Nobody had anything,” he said.

If it transpires that either defendant actually has more money or assets than he was told about, Allard said the prosecutors are always welcome to bring the case before him again, so he can change the repayment amount. In the meantime, he said he understands if people are frustrated, but said he made the right judgment based on the information he had at the time.

“You’re not going to please everybody in every case,” he said.

What’s Next

Now, we wait.

At some point, the city’s investigator will determine whether Smith or Dayacap have any assets that the city can get its hands on.

The investigator, working with the City Attorney’s Office, will then have to decide whether the city should go through the trouble of trying to get those assets, or whether the expense of doing so isn’t worth it to the taxpayers.

I’ll be checking in periodically with the City Attorney’s Office to see how that process is coming along.

Will Carless is an investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego currently focused on local education. You can reach him at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5670.

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Will Carless

Will Carless

Will Carless is the former head of investigations at Voice of San Diego. He currently lives in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he is a freelance foreign correspondent and occasional contributor to VOSD. You can reach him at will.carless.work@gmail.com.

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12 comments
Gregory Hay
Gregory Hay subscriber

I'd would **LOVE** to someone from VOSD dig into some of the honorable Judge Edward P. Allard III's previous felony rulings [that's a hint, BTW], and see how many of them had no jail time because having a felony on one's record "is punishment enough." Be *real* interested if he ruled on any drug cases.

haydesigner
haydesigner

I'd would **LOVE** to someone from VOSD dig into some of the honorable Judge Edward P. Allard III's previous felony rulings [that's a hint, BTW], and see how many of them had no jail time because having a felony on one's record "is punishment enough." Be *real* interested if he ruled on any drug cases.

Barbara Stevens
Barbara Stevens subscriber

This judge is a runner up to John Boehner for being a soft touch and emotional! I love his line that he can't please everyone...It appears he only worries about pleasing the thieving criminals he sees in his courtroom!!

skeptic6
skeptic6

This judge is a runner up to John Boehner for being a soft touch and emotional! I love his line that he can't please everyone...It appears he only worries about pleasing the thieving criminals he sees in his courtroom!!

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

Here’s a money saving suggestion for the city and county: Stop wasting time investigating possible civil action against these convicted felons, the judge knows they are broke........Huh? Are you saying this can’t be true, because they wouldn’t even be able to pay the hundred a month he ordered......Wait a minute, are you claiming the judge is a liar, an incompetent or worse, a bleeding heart? Are you claiming that, if they still have the money, they’ll make a nice profit on it after each paying the hundred bucks a month if they can manage to earn even one percent interest on their stash?......You are despicable! Edward P. Allard lll is a distinguished judge who doesn’t take decisions lightly, and he meted out justice, San Diego style, so stop whining!

toulon
toulon

Here’s a money saving suggestion for the city and county: Stop wasting time investigating possible civil action against these convicted felons, the judge knows they are broke........Huh? Are you saying this can’t be true, because they wouldn’t even be able to pay the hundred a month he ordered......Wait a minute, are you claiming the judge is a liar, an incompetent or worse, a bleeding heart? Are you claiming that, if they still have the money, they’ll make a nice profit on it after each paying the hundred bucks a month if they can manage to earn even one percent interest on their stash?......You are despicable! Edward P. Allard lll is a distinguished judge who doesn’t take decisions lightly, and he meted out justice, San Diego style, so stop whining!

Gabby Rubio
Gabby Rubio subscriber

They're broke???? How so? I thought they embezzled $435,000. That money is somewhere and they need to take it back from them. The repayment of $100 a month is ridiculous!! The burden of losing their jobs and prospects for future jobs is nothing! They are thieves and they should go to jail and repay every cent back!!! They were basically let off with a slap in the wrist. This is pitiful! :-\

twiztid
twiztid

They're broke???? How so? I thought they embezzled $435,000. That money is somewhere and they need to take it back from them. The repayment of $100 a month is ridiculous!! The burden of losing their jobs and prospects for future jobs is nothing! They are thieves and they should go to jail and repay every cent back!!! They were basically let off with a slap in the wrist. This is pitiful! :-\

Bruce Bogers
Bruce Bogers subscriber

If they're Not living at St.Vincent dePaul or some other homeless shelter then they got off easier than they already have.Why do judges treat "white collar" criminals any different than any other criminals? Evedently equal protection under the law isn't equal.I believe stealing money is stealing money,weather or not the means used is a gun,extortion,or betraying the public trust.No, maybe that's wrong....stealing under the guise of "leadership" is worse than using a gun.

SDBruce
SDBruce

If they're Not living at St.Vincent dePaul or some other homeless shelter then they got off easier than they already have.Why do judges treat "white collar" criminals any different than any other criminals? Evedently equal protection under the law isn't equal.I believe stealing money is stealing money,weather or not the means used is a gun,extortion,or betraying the public trust.No, maybe that's wrong....stealing under the guise of "leadership" is worse than using a gun.

Dale Peterson
Dale Peterson subscribermember

Judge Allard III: Nonsense. You assisted in the fleecing of the the citizens of San Diego. That was a "window dressing" penalty. No accountability. None. Numerous other options were available for sentencing. They stole lots of public money and lost their jobs. That's it. Citizens get tougher sanctions in traffic court---and no one on the bench asks if they can afford to pay the penalty.

Dale Peterson
Dale Peterson

Judge Allard III: Nonsense. You assisted in the fleecing of the the citizens of San Diego. That was a "window dressing" penalty. No accountability. None. Numerous other options were available for sentencing. They stole lots of public money and lost their jobs. That's it. Citizens get tougher sanctions in traffic court---and no one on the bench asks if they can afford to pay the penalty.