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Ex-symphony head on Pennsula charged with embezzlement

Hundreds of thousands of dollars missing from nonprofit's bank accounts

The former executive director of the Peninsula Symphony Association has been accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the decades-old Los Altos community orchestra.

Stephen Jay Carlton, a 45-year-old Novato resident, is facing multiple felony charges, including grand theft, embezzlement, forgery, identity theft and tax evasion. He faces up to 18 years in prison if he is convicted. He was arrested late last week.

Carlton came under suspicion in September 2013 after one of the association's board members was alerted that the 65-year-old nonprofit's funds were unusually low, according to a press release issued by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Carlton resigned shortly after board members brought the issue to the Los Altos Police Department, the press release said. One of the symphony's endowments dropped from $227,000 to $375; another was depleted by nearly $200,000 -- going from $195,000 to $395.

In a subsequent investigation, it was shown that Carlton had used association checks to pay himself, the press release details. He is accused of forging the signatures of two board members on a number of the checks, taking out an unauthorized $25,000 loan in the association's name and using the money to pay down personal debts.

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