Months of pouring through the man's credit card history and his
The money was taken from 51
The amount of loss varied. For some it was a few hundred dollars and went up from there to more than
The money -- taken mainly from client social security checks -- appears to be gone.
Sark's credit card records show expensive purchases and trips, including a 2007 honeymoon to
"We're of the mindset he has spent it all," said Brazis. "He just used it as he embezzled it."
The case is one of the largest in a recent string of
Sark, 66, retired in
More than half of the agency's clients have mental developmental disabilities and many others have autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy, according to agency reports.
The agency's annual budget is about
One of the main services offered is financial management.
Sark worked as a client program coordinator with a role of helping people with their money.
"He was a caretaker for these folks and administered the funds to them. He was their advocate, the person who makes sure their day-to-day activities, paying bills, were taken care of," said the sergeant. "His clients were basically going without those funds."
News of the arrest and allegations rocked branches of the service community that aids people with disabilities.
"It's horrible," said
"I can think of few worse crimes because the people who are being stolen from really have no means to stand up for themselves," Brown said. "We're talking about a class of individuals, that unfortunately even if they were to suspect something was wrong ... few people would believe them."
It was unclear how many of the alleged victims had been notified, by either
Typically, a person with disabilities receives monthly income, primarily
But because of their disabilities, the money needs to go to a third party to handle for the client and that's where nonprofit agencies such as
Sgt. Brazis said it appeared
"What it appears happened is checks and balances were not looked at," said Brazis. "Knowing the system and finding a flaw in the system, he (Sark) was able to exploit it."
Brazis said he believed
North Bay Regional Center Acting Director
Maseda said the current investigation precluded him from talking about the case.
Instead, he issued a brief statement. "We were very pleased with the
Sark, arrested Monday, remained in the
On Wednesday, the
More charges could be added as police suspect there were at least 51 victims, ages 20-70.
"The discovery in the case is voluminous," Schwaiger said Thursday, referring to the police investigation. Sark is due in court in two weeks to enter a plea and the defense attorney said he'll take the time to get through the huge file.
Detectives offered a four-inch-thick binder outlining details of the deposited checks and credit card statements.
"We followed the money," said Brazis.
The investigation documented losses totaling about
Initially detectives looked at paperwork going back to 2006 -- covering available records.
Detectives found evidence of checks being deposited at a steady pace, said Brazis. It's likely the suspect started prior to that and that more money could have been taken, he said.
According to the investigation, the stolen checks had been issued to clients by the North Bay Regional Center. Stark picked them up, forged their name, countersigned on the back and deposited them into his Chase bank account.
Detectives said with magnitude of checks involved, the suspect could have been depositing at least a dozen checks a week, made out to other people.
"Somewhere along the line we would hope red flags would be sent up, perhaps some regulations in the banking industry that would obligate them to contact authorities. I don't know whether that exists," Brazis said.
Standard banking industry policy allows a person to deposit a check written to someone else if the check is endorsed on the back and then countersigned by the person making the deposit.
The investigation into Sark started with an allegation of an inappropriate relationship with a client. While police found no criminal activity involved in a relationship, it prompted further scrutiny of the employee by
In September, detectives began looking into possible financial improprieties.
The investigation included looking at whether Sark's wife,
Sark was arrested at the couple's
A woman who answered the door this week at the two-story residence declined to comment and would only say that Sark's wife wasn't home.
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