Pismo Beach Chamber embezzlement charges under dispute
January 12, 2011
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s complaint says Rebecca McMurry embezzled $5,248.97 in credit card payments for personal items. However, several local business owners and chamber officials claim McMurry is accountable for additional missing funds.
When asked in September about the alleged missing monies, chamber interim treasurer Tony Wells said that he investigated the allegations of missing funds and could only verify $13,000 in credit card purchases for personal items.
“If she took just credit cards, our events made up for that,” Wells told CalCoastNews in September. “We don’t want to paint her as a bad person.”
Some city residents and business owners suspect the amount of funds missing is in the $100,000 range and accuse the chamber of attempting to keep the issue quiet to protect its reputation. The allegations have created a divide among those who hoped the issue would go away and those who wanted McMurry held accountable for the missing monies.
The city of Pismo Beach provides the chamber a total of $104,754 a year, which breaks down as $67,254 for the Visitor Information Center, 13,500 for the Visitor Information Kiosk, $10,000 for the Fourth of July event, $10,000 for the Clam Festival and $5,000 for band review, according to Susan West-Jones, account manager for the city of Pismo Beach.
Wells noted that the credit cards McMurry used to buy personal items were affiliated with event accounts and not supported by city monies.
Rebecca McMurry left the chamber in May, shortly after the annual Taste of Pismo. There are allegations that cash donations failed to show up in the deposit receipt at a time when the chamber treasurer position had gone unfilled for almost a year.
In early October, Pismo Beach Police opened an investigation after receiving information from a chamber official about the credit card purchases.
McMurry’s pre-preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24.