Former firefighter faces sentencing in embezzlement case
Oscar Picazo pleaded guilty on Dec. 11 to a count of grand theft by embezzlement with amount enhancements for theft over $65,000 and theft over $100,000
By Danielle Vaughn
LODI, Calif. — A year after being accused of embezzling almost $300,000 from the Lodi Professional Firefighters Union, former Lodi firefighter and union treasurer Oscar Picazo pleaded guilty last month in San Joaquin County Superior Court and is scheduled to be sentenced in March.
Picazo pleaded guilty on Dec. 11 to a count of grand theft by embezzlement with amount enhancements for theft over $65,000 and theft over $100,000.
According to Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor, Picazo is set to appear for sentencing on March 20 at 8:30 a.m. in Room 8B of the San Joaquin County Superior Court. Picazo is currently free with the understanding he will appear in court.
Picazo has paid back a substantial amount of the missing money, and still owes approximately $150,000, according to Taylor. Picazo paid $20,000 of the union’s missing funds last April. Prior to that, he paid $57,000 at a court appearance last February and another $73,000 when the union first began its investigation into the missing funds.
Al Ellis, the attorney representing Picazo, said the sentencing hearing was scheduled in March so that Picazo could put together the rest of the restitution amount. Picazo plans to pay the rest of the missing money by the time of the sentencing hearing, Ellis said.
According to Ellis, Picazo apologized well before admitting guilt by way of the court proceedings and paying a substantial amount of the money prior to the time he was prosecuted.
Grand theft is punishable by 16 months to three years in prison in California, Taylor said. The enhancements could add a year to the sentence.
Lodi Fire Captain and union secretary Shane Langone said the union membership is glad that the whole ordeal will be coming to an end.
“We kind of want this to be over. Some money is better than none. The money we have has gotten us back on our feet again,” Langone said on behalf of the membership. “It would be very nice to have it all, but who knows when that’s going to happen.”
Members of the union plan to be in attendance during the sentencing and some plan to give statements at that time.
Copyright 2018 Lodi News-Sentinel