Michael Trautman never showed any signs of dishonesty or deceitfulness in his four years as Information Technology manager for the city of Los Altos, according to officials who hired him.
So it came as a shock to staffers when police last week arrested Trautman, a 41-year-old Mountain View resident with access to sensitive city information, on suspicion of using a city credit card to purchase electronics and sell them for personal profit.
Police began examining Trautman’s expense-report history in December, just before he resigned from his post after learning of the investigation. Police Chief Tuck Younis said that documentation Trautman submitted differed from what he had purchased.
The investigation uncovered at least $30,000 worth of illicit transactions, which led to Trautman’s arrest Feb. 6.
“A document he presented during his monthly reconciliation of his credit-card account caused some suspicion during normal review,” said Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis. “There were discrepancies with what was approved and what was submitted.”
J. Logan, the city’s assistant city manager and human resources director, said Trautman’s background check came through clean before he was hired in 2007. She said no other city employees are under suspicion.
“This is definitely isolated to that individual,” she told the Town Crier.
But the arrest has apparently taken a toll on fellow employees, according to Logan.
“It’s disheartening when you have people who work so hard to be credible and to show the public local government in the best light,” she said. “I see disheartened faces all around me.”
Trautman, charged with three felony counts of grand theft, could not be reached for comment. He posted $50,000 bail the day of his arrest.
According to city records, Trautman earned $116,716 last year.
The city, which carries insurance to cover theft, has hired an independent accounting firm to review its procedures and determine if any can be strengthened to prevent future incidents, Logan said.
Even so, Logan admitted that a thorough review might not fully safeguard the process.
“This was a very highly sophisticated cover-up,” she said. “What stops anyone?”