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Compton city treasurer $3.7 million theft demands deeper probe

Compton Herald Publisher and Editor Jarrette Fellows, Jr. asks: How could one man get away with so much for so long?

City should fire key staff in City Treasurer’s office for theft due to eminently bad checks and balances

Disgraced former Compton deputy city treasurer Salvador Galvan faces 10 years in federal prison for brazenly stealing $3.7 million from City Hall coffers over a six-year stretch.

However, there remains a dubious undercurrent to the multi-million dollar caper. How Galvan was able to pocket so much money for so long without raising one iota of suspicion. Was the system of checks and balances so horrendously bad that money poured like a sieve from the treasurer’s office into Galvan’s pockets?

Or, was the scrutiny of Galvan’s bosses so woefully inept that they were blind, mute, and deaf to the rat in the cookie jar?

Galvan had worked since 1994 in the office of the Compton city treasurer, where he was responsible for handling cash, city officials said. One of his duties was to collect money for items like payment of water bills, trash collection services, business licenses, and building permits.

While Galvan maintained accurate receipts of the cash he received for city fees, records show he would submit a lower amount to the city’s deposit records and, ultimately, on the deposit slips verified by his supervisors and the banks.

Apparently Galvan’s bosses didn’t bother to check his final tallies.

One would think in wake of a $40 million deficit, leadership in the Compton city treasurer’s office would have been much more earnest. Instead it was slovenly, careless, and unperceptive. Still, it’s hard to imagine how the department did not miss such gargantuan sums of money in a given year — $1,400, $12,000, $395,824 in 2012, $719,345 in 2013, and $879,536 in 2015, according to court documents.

Galvan may be in custody and will surely reap the whirlwind for his gluttonous deeds, but deeper investigation into the crime is warranted.

If that doesn’t happen and the investigation ends with the incarceration of Galvan, the least the Compton City Council can do is wipe the slate clean of the key officers in the office — including City Treasurer Douglas Sanders, who is bidding for a seventh term, after 23 years in office.

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. is Publisher and Editor of Compton Herald. He attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and is an alumnus of California State University, Los Angeles.

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