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Former Redondo Beach police sergeant and union official is accused of embezzling

December 9, 2009 |  3:55 pm
A former police sergeant appeared in court today on charges of embezzling more than $72,000 from the Redondo Beach Police Officers’ Assn.

Gene Tomatani, 40, is accused of taking the money between May 2004 and May 2008, when he served as the union's president and treasurer, said Shiara Davila-Morales, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney. In all, $72,388.56 went missing in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 at a time, she said.

Tomatani was relieved of his duties when the missing funds were discovered through an audit in November 2008, Davila-Morales said. He submitted his resignation from the Redondo Beach Police Department the following October.

Tomatani was charged Tuesday with a felony count of grand theft by embezzlement with the allegation that he took more than $65,000.  If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison, Davila-Morales said.

At today’s brief court appearance, Tomatani paid $12,000 toward restitution, she said. Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Alan Rubin postponed Tomatani’s arraignment until Jan. 8 and allowed him to remain free on his own  recognizance.

Tomatani’s attorney, Vicki Podberesky, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

-- Alexandra Zavis