Redlands resident and former Corona-Norco Unified School District assistant superintendent of facilities along with the chief executive officer of a construction company were charged on Thursday, Nov. 7, with embezzling more than $1 million of public funds from the district.
According to the Riverside County district attorney’s office, Ted Eugene Rozzi, 60, of Redlands, was charged along with Edward Curtis Mierau, 65, of Ladera Ranch, with theft of public funds, money laundering, conflict of interest and aggravated white-collar crime.
Rozzi surrendered to authorities on Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Riverside Superior Court, while Mierau was making arrangements to do so, said authorities. Rozzi was given a conditional own-recognizance release, which includes the judge ordering him to surrender his passport and not to leave the country.
Rozzi is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday, Dec. 20, at the Hall of Justice in Riverside.
As part of the criminal filings in this case, the district attorney’s office has frozen real estate assets of both defendants in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and San Diego counties.
According to authorities, Rozzi supervised all aspects of building of structures for the district from 1992 to 2017.
Mierau was the chief executive officer of Neff Construction, which specializes in school construction.
In May 2017, another CNUSD employee discovered something she believed was suspicious regarding a transaction between Rozzi and Neff Construction, said authorities.
She contacted district officials and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department started an investigation.
During that investigation, search warrants were served and it was determined that there were multiple transactions between Rozzi and Mierau in which Rozzi asked for checks to be written from Neff Construction to various financial institutions — not the school district — but billed the expenses to various school construction projects.
Investigators identified transactions totaling more than $1.1 million between December 2011 and May 2017.
Search warrants revealed that the money — intended for the construction of school projects — was funneled through Neff Construction and ended up in Rozzi’s personal banking and credit card accounts.
“We are angry and very disappointed that an executive level administrator in our district would abuse his position of trust to manipulate our facilities accounts for his own financial gain,” said CNUSD Superintendent Michael Lin.