BCL: Might be plea agreement in the future for former bookkeeper
Published:  March 23, 2016

There might be a plea agreement in the future for the former Blanchard Community Library bookkeeper accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tammy Ferguson, 55, of Santa Paula, appeared in Ventura County Superior Court March 16, an arraignment that had been continued from February. 

Ferguson was arrested in late October following a more than two-year investigation into missing funds prosecutors allege she embezzled from the public library over more than a decade.

Ferguson is charged with eight felony counts of embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds and falsifying accounts. 

A BCL forensic audit estimated about $750,000 was unaccounted for and the DA’s investigation showed about $500,000 in missing funds could be traced. 

The charges against Ferguson include a special allegation — a legal benchmark — that she stole more than $200,000 from the library.

Several library trustees as well as BCL supporters attended the March 16 hearing where Ferguson’s assigned Public Defender Daniel Ferguson, and Prosecutor Thomas Frye made brief comments regarding the case.

Frye told Judge Bruce Young that he had received financial records that should be given to the court.

The voluminous discovery in the case already includes more than 15,000 pages of bank records, BCL board meeting minutes and other documents related to the library’s banking accounts, actions and finances, as well as spending traced through credit card transfers and use and debit withdrawals.

Frye noted the new documents were from Union Bank, Chase Bank and Capital One as well as J.P. Morgan; seven banks were subpoenaed for records in the case.

“There may be a plea,” at the next arraignment Frye told the judge.

If a plea agreement is struck it should not come as a surprise: when the indictment was filed October 31 there was a document indicating a plea agreement could be forthcoming.

At the time of Ferguson’s arrest District Attorney Greg Totten filed a statement noting she was hired by the independent BCL, funded primarily through Santa Paula property taxes, in 1993 and was the library’s “sole financial officer” from 2003 until 2013 when she was terminated.

The library’s insurer paid $450,000 on BCL’s embezzlement claim in 2014. In December 2015, Arthur Martinez & Associates, the library’s former longtime auditor, settled a lawsuit for $117,500. The library’s insurer has also filed a lawsuit against Arthur Martinez & Associates.

Ferguson remains free on bail of $40,000; if convicted of the charges she could face up to 12 years 4 months in prison, the maximum term.

Her next court appearance is scheduled for March 30, 9 a.m. in Courtroom 12.

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