A finance director for the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) who appears to have used $1.3 million of public funds to buy himself a home in Oregon, has now been indicted as of Friday. Clarke Howatt, who resigned his position in January after an audit revealed the embezzlement, has been the subject of many recent news reports about the alleged theft, the monies from which were meant to be used for beautifying the area around the base of the Bay Bridge near One Rincon tower, the developer of which donated the funds to ABAG as a community impact fee.
As a result, ABAG is now under some extra scrutiny by the state controller, who will be auditing the organization herself to see how this happened, as the Business Times reported.
As the Chronicle reports, the indictment states that Howatt "did knowingly and with the intent to defraud devise a scheme and artifice” to make a transfer to his own personal account on August 12, 2014, and take “unused development project funds and surplus cash from (public) bond accounts."
The Oregon beach home was purchased three days later.
Howatt also, apparently, disappeared briefly right after his resignation, even though he was wanted for questioning immediately. But he was soon found, and he's now hired top criminal defense attorney Mary McNamara of Swanson & McNamara, who told the Chron in a statement Friday, "Mr. Howatt is fully cooperating with law enforcement and ABAG. He deeply regrets his actions and is in the process of restoring the funds that he took. He waived indictment and is working with the government on a speedy resolution."
ABAG, in response, simply said they were glad to hear that Howatt "has the resources to make full restitution." One would imagine selling that beach house might be part of it.