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Hartnell College

The Hartnell College employee who came under investigation last November by the Salinas Police Department for allegedly embezzling thousands of dollars has been arrested. Rocio Mendoza, 51, was arrested on 11 counts of identity theft and embezzlement on Tuesday, May 17.

Originally an investigator hired by Hartnell estimated in November that Mendoza had made 102 personal purchases on a Hartnell Foundation credit card totaling $10,784. The information was handed over to Salinas Police, and after six months of investigation police officials now estimate the total at $27,000.

According to the announcement Mendoza also allegedly falsified time card entries in the Foundation’s web-based payroll system, using part-time employee profiles.

Mendoza worked as an administrative assistant for both the college and the foundation, a separate nonprofit organization, until she was placed on paid administrative leave last July. The leave came after the discovery of unusual purchases for the Foundation’s Summer STEM Academy. Those purchases included cat food, hair dryers, nail polish and computers.

After the investigator’s report was completed in November, Mendoza was taken off of paid administrative leave. She resigned on Dec. 17.

Mendoza denies the allegations.

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