A former property manager for the State Bar was sentenced in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland today to two years and eight months in prison for embezzling more than $600,000 from the agency.
The sentencing of Sharon Pearl, 52, of Oakland, was announced by state Attorney General Jerry Brown, whose office prosecuted her.
Pearl was accused in a criminal complaint last April of systematically embezzling more than $600,000 by diverting rent payments from tenants in the State Bar’s headquarters building in San Francisco between 2001 and 2008.
She pleaded no contest in December to one count of embezzlement and six counts of filing false income tax returns for the years 2002 through 2007.
Brown said, “Pearl methodically embezzled more than $600,000 to bankroll a lavish lifestyle.” He said Pearl spent the money on spa treatments, designer clothes and expensive meals and hotels.
The State Bar, created by the Legislature in 1927, is a state agency that regulates California’s more than 200,000 lawyers.
Pearl began working for the agency in 1996 and was promoted to property manager in 1999, the same year the organization bought a 13-story headquarters building at 180 Howard Street in San Francisco. The bar rents out three floors of space in the building.
Pearl was fired on Oct. 3, 2008, after the bar discovered she was keeping two sets of books on tenant rental payments. The agency referred the case to Brown’s office.
State Bar Deputy Executive Director Robert Hawley said last year that the organization has now instituted new audit procedures.
In addition to receiving a prison sentence, Pearl was ordered to pay the bar $615,790 in restitution plus $167,422 in staff, audit and attorney costs.
Brown said Pearl has paid $393,212 of the restitution amount thus far.
She was also ordered to pay $116,652 in back taxes, penalties, interest and investigation costs to the state Franchise Tax Board.