By Associated Press - Saturday, April 25, 2015

BUENA PARK, Calif. (AP) - Two former Buena Park officials who worked in the city parks and recreation department have pleaded guilty to embezzling $1.3 million from the Southern California city.

The Orange County Register reported Saturday ( ) that the former parks and recreation chief, Rudolph Juarez, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison on Friday and former parks supervisor, Gabriel Garcia, was sentenced to six years in prison.

Among the schemes, Juarez reduced the hours of employees but kept them on the books as full time, according to court records. Juarez also used the name of family members to hire phony employees and get their paychecks sent to bank accounts he controlled, prosecutors said. He also tripled the pay to a landscaping company that hired phony vendors for jobs that went undone, according to the court.

Juarez’s defense attorney could not be reached for comment.

The schemes went on for two decades, though the charges cover the period between 2005 and 2011, said senior District Attorney Marc Labreche.

Juarez would punish subordinates who spoke up, Labreche said.

Defense attorney Jacob Brower, representing Garcia, said the city’s lax oversight allowed this to happen for so long.

“I don’t blame the city, but it’s certainly something the city manager should have caught years ago,” Brower told the Orange County Register.

The defendants must pay more than $1.3 million in restitution to the city of Buena Park and more than $2.6 million in fines.

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