Alameda-Contra Costa Transit's chief financial officer has been charged with four felony counts of grand theft for allegedly taking more than
$500,000 over a six-year period from one of Oakland's largest and most prominent churches.
Lewis Clinton Jr., 57, was arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court in Hayward on Monday on the charges that he stole funds from Allen Temple Baptist Church.
Clinton, who is free on $100,000 bail, is scheduled to return to court on May 21 to enter a plea.
James Taranto, an inspector for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, said in a probable cause statement that Clinton was board president of two church-run tax-exempt corporations that provide housing and other services to low- and moderate-income people in Oakland.
Clinton also ran a foundation the church created to accept philanthropic gifts.
Taranto said that from April 2007 through February 2013, Clinton used his access to the corporations' financial accounts to divert more than $500,000 to a checking account for Eagle Asset Management, an entity solely owned and controlled by Clinton.
In addition, Clinton illegally withdrew $66,000 from a Wells Fargo account belonging to the church between March 2008 and February 2013, according to Taranto.
Among the funds that Clinton allegedly diverted were $400,000 that the church made from the sale of cellphone tower rights, Taranto said.
Clinton, who has been AC Transit's CFO since 2008 and also serves as a trustee for its retirement board, allegedly used church funds for mortgage payments on his home, tuition payments for private schools for his children, loan payments, personal real estate tax payments, a golf club membership and the purchase of at least one luxury car, according to Taranto.
Clinton's attorney, Michael Thorman, and an attorney for Allen Temple Baptist Church couldn't immediately be reached for comment today.
AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said officials at the bus agency, which serves parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, are "shocked
to the point of disbelief" at the charges against Clinton.
Johnson said Clinton has been "a trusted and valued and very capable employee" since he's been at AC Transit.
The agency's general manager David Armijo decided on Monday night to place Clinton on indefinite paid administrative leave, Johnson said.
James Pachan, AC Transit's chief operating officer, is now also assuming Clinton's duties as chief financial officer, according to Johnson.
There is no indication at this time that Clinton stole any money from AC Transit, Johnson said.
"We have a system of financial controls in place and we feel very secure at this point," he said.
Johnson said AC Transit is audited three times a year, including twice by the federal government, and the audits haven't uncovered any signs of financial wrongdoing.
According to the bus agency's website, Clinton has more than 25 years of experience working in the financial services industry, including commercial banking, investment banking and providing financial advisory services.