- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) - Four former employees of a San Bernardino psychiatric hospital have pleaded not guilty to embezzlement and other felony charges in connection with a payroll fraud scheme that authorities say bilked taxpayers out of more than $800,000.

The district attorney’s office says all four employees were allegedly paid for hours they did not work at Patton State Hospital.

Entering pleas Wednesday were 68-year-old Jose Romero, 68-year-old Mercedes Agudo, 37-year-old Kathy Duarte and 46-year-old Marcus Johnson.

Prosecutors say Romero is the hospital’s former payroll clerk.

They are charged with multiple felonies including misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement and grand theft.

A pretrial hearing is set for Oct. 17.

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