Paso Robles city employee sentenced to jail

June 5, 2014

prison barsBy KAREN VELIE

A former Paso Robles building, parks and streets maintenance supervisor arrested for allegedly embezzling thousands of dollars from the city, was sentenced to 20 days in jail on May 27.

Facing three felony charges of grand theft and one misdemeanor charge of petty theft, Charles Lorenzen, 52, agreed to a plea agreement with prosecutors. As part of the plea, Lorenzen plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge and the three felony charges were dropped.

San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy sentenced Lorenzen to 20 days in jail, three years of probation and restitution of $680.69 regarding the charge of petty theft, according to court documents.

In early 2013, city employees informed management that Lorenzen was using his city credit card for personal purchases. In addition, employees claimed Lorenzen had pilfered gas and landscaping supplies.

After city officials refused to look into the allegations of embezzlement, a building maintenance supervisor took a stack of credit card receipts to the police department which initiated an investigation, city sources said.

On Sept. 17, 2013, Charles Lorenzen, 52, was placed on paid administrative leave after Paso Robles police investigators began looking into the theft allegations.

Officers then searched Lorenzen’s Templeton home and removed several pilfered items.

Lorenzen was hired 14 years ago by City Manager Jim App. He is currently out of jail on a $20,000 bond.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

It’s time to put this to bed. All the Mary Mary Malones, Lawmen and the like out there, this is for you. Since none of you including Karen wanted to know exactly what happened here and just speculated based on assumptions, you are the joke. There was not one shred of evidence with merit regarding the credit card bs. Not one item had been charged on the city card and been taken for personal use. What he did take was a few old railroad ties and some weed infested dg to make a horseshoe pit. The items had been degrading in the city yard for 4-6 years! He also borrowed the weed eater and rototillar which by the way he brought forward to the police after the bs credit card accusations. Those accusations as I stated before were nothing more than a disgruntled subordinate trying to get a superior in trouble for something he didn’t do. If you don’t believe me, talk to the Paso PD about it. Charles knowing he was wrong to borrow the equipment and to take the soon to be dumped material abruptly quit his job that he kicked butt in for 13 years. The stupid city has had to replace him with two employees that can’t even find their way out of a wet paper bag now. As far as 20 days in jail, another bs story from Karen. I want just one of you to come up with a list of all the $1000’s of items he charged and you have convicted him of stealing. Thank God none of you were the judge and jury based on Karen’s story. Sorry Karen, I have lost respect for you in this one. Please do a little better in your normally great investigative reporting.

Your story gets more interesting every time you post, especially when you admit that–after repeatedly accusing CCN of being wrong, you grudgingly admit they are correct.

First your story was Lorenzen was innocent. Then he “borrowed” equipment. Now you admit he did steal city property.

And throughout this discussion you demand others prove what the article said is true…even though you knew it was true.

I am beginning to believe what others have posted…that you are, indeed, Lorenzen. I cannot believe anyone else besides the perp in this crime would post in the manner you do.

You post with such an attitude of entitlement to take what does not belong to you, one thing is clear…this is not the first theft “Lorenzen” pulled, nor will it be his last.

Could someone please explain to me, WHY this guy got such a light sentence for grand theft from his employer, when everybody else should expect 180 days plus 3 years felony probation?! Why even bother prosecuting the crime if the ramifications are paid administrative leave,a ridiculously small fine and the minor inconvenience of reporting to a probation officer once a month? Paid administrative leave for this man rewards his criminal behavior by giving him a paid vacation. Whats the point of even reporting the crime to Law Enforcement and then giving him a paid vacation on top of what he already embezzled? And why doesn’t the District Attorney prosecute him equally to everyone else?! Is justice really blind, or just deaf dumb and blind?! Ultimately the tax payers are the victim, because it’s tax payers dollars that he stole, tax payer’s dollars that payed his salary while on leave, and tax payer’s dollars that pay for the defunct system of Justice. Can we at least have some Rights and maybe some privacy back since the service sucks?!

Have you ever heard of overcharging by the DA’s office? For the 100th time, he got NO PAID LEAVE. He fricking resigned. The fine is totally in line with the value placed on the use of USED equipment ie., weedeater and rototillar. All the credit card bs was that BS.

And where is the evidence, and specifics, of his resignation? You keep saying he resigned, but have nothing to back up that claim.

Call Jim App and he will concur. There is a lot more to come from this story, just wait.

Bull$hit. You know he cannot divulge details of employee information.

what is this Mary? Are we sensing doubt in all the “evidence” you think you have. Which by the way is none, so why have you expressed such vehemence over your position? You have a few brief lines in a media source and have derived it is the gospel? It’s not anyone’s job to provide you with proof of anything.

Perhaps you should also address your favorite, totally reliable source of CCN for the proof! They don’t appear to have given you any so far, but you believe them.

Easier to run with a lie isn’t it. Who is the sycophant?

I am basing my commentary on the article which heads the discussion. People routinely develop their opinions on issues based on what they read in news publications. Why do you want this to be a special case for Lorenzen?

If you have evidence to support your claims, then post them. I am not going to go by your word alone because many of Lorenzen’s supporters are so desperate they are claiming that Lorenzen “borrowed” the equipment he stole.

By the way, since many of Lorenzen’s supporters don’t seem to own dictionaries, for the record, here is the Merriam-Webster definition for stealing:


verb \ˈstēl\

: to take (something that does not belong to you) in a way that is wrong or illegal

: to take (something that you are not supposed to have) without asking for permission

My mother taught me “believe half of what you see and nothing that you hear”. This applies double to anything in the media. This, story as printed, lacks credibility.

Again I say, Karen do some real investigating.

And Mary, well…you know what you can do!

For God’s sake, man up and post your proof. You are posting the claim that CCN has it wrong. Prove it.

Really Mary, we all knew you could read.

It’s the comprehension that seems to be missing.

“Theft is often defined as the unauthorized taking of property from another with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. Within this definition lie two key elements:

1) a taking of someone else’s property; and

2) the requisite intent to deprive the victim of the property permanently.

The taking element in a theft typically requires seizing possession of property that belongs to another, and may also involve removing or attempting to remove the property. However, it is the element of intent where most of the complex legal challenges typically arise in theft-related cases.”

Oh by the way, here’s the proof I didn’t make this up. It’s in this link

I do own a dictionary, also am quite capable of internet research.

Theft overview from

Theft is often defined as the unauthorized taking of property from another with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. Within this definition lie two key elements:

1) a taking of someone else’s property; and

2) the requisite intent to deprive the victim of the property permanently.

The taking element in a theft typically requires seizing possession of property that belongs to another, and may also involve removing or attempting to remove the property. However, it is the element of intent where most of the complex legal challenges typically arise in theft-related cases.

His wages were paid by tax payers…he broke the law…..plain and simple

REVOKE his pension.

and BUBBA can have a littlr lovin in jail…

HaHaHa, Lawman1 the joke is on you. ROTFL

“Paso Robles city employee sentenced to jail”

Only one?

Can we just low-life criminal. He borrowed things. He really didn’t steal things. He is simply misunderstood. Wow, criminals that work for government agencies in this county are actually the victims. We should feel sorry for them. The system wrongfully has labeled them. Stand up – you are simply a thief who acted like you were an upstanding member of the community and their are plenty of those working for local government in this county.

Strong words, based on half truths and assumptions. However I can assure you I am not Charles Lorenzen.

Karen did not do this story justice. In this case she has fueled a fire of dissension without a complete investigation. Nothing but innuendo. I challenge Karen to do a complete investigation into the matter.

standup, hmmm, let me take a stab in the dark. You work for government. Simply, if you borrow something that means you asked to borrow it. Also, by law you can not borrow government property for personal use – that is simply a misuse of public resources for personal gain. The guy is a low life, end of story!

Assume much do you? This would be a good time to step back and consider that the facts in the article could be at least incomplete and possibly in error. Standup (who sounds like a co-worker to me) stated in a previous post that Lorenzen admitted that he shouldn’t have borrowed the items in question and was willing to take the hit for that. That sounds like a human mistake that should be punished in a moderate way — but not enough to label someone a “low life” without further evidence of a pattern of misbehavior.

I am sure that you have never did something wrong at work which could be technically be considered a crime — like using a computer, copier or phone for personal purposes (theft of time/electricity) or taking a pen (outright misdemeanor theft) so I will have to accept your moral authority I guess. (Sarcasm intended.)

A big difference from a worker stealing from the taxpayers and a worker using a copier at his private employer.

Next time try not to compare apples and oranges.

He embezzled $$$thousands, and also helped himself to government gasoline and other products! And you call it a “mistake”!

Those embezzled funds and supplies came at the expense of taxpayers. To make it worse, he only got 20 days in jail.

He was hired by Herr App, and certainly seems to continue benefits from that relationship. Surely, that relationship is why this fraud, embezzlement and theft of taxpayer-funded government property was allowed to continue for so long.

Lorenzen should receive prison time for his crimes. Instead, he got a slap on the wrist.

This kind of criminal behavior by Paso employees will continue as long as App is City Manager. How much longer will it take, and how many more crimes by city employees will the voters allow, before the vote out App’s supporters in the city council?

Mary, you appear as ignorant as they come. $1000s, stole gasoline,? Where do you get your facts? Maybe from your bad LSD trip. If he really did that, the restitution would show it instead of $600 dollars.

So I “appear to be ignorant”? Because…what? I based my opinion on CNN’ s articles and not the unsupported claims by sycophants like you?

Lorenzen got very special treatment by Chief Burton and App from the beginning. They were forced to investigate and, once it was clear Lorenzen is guilty, App allowed an obscene plea-down from thousands of dollars to hundreds of dollars, AND the dismissal of three FELONY charges.

So it is clear that Lorenzen was “investigated” to the barest minimum Burton and App could get away with. I cringe to think how many other crimes Lorenzen committed while he had free access to use a city credit card and free access to steal city property.

And get a frackin clue…when you take possession of someone else’s property it is THEFT. It is not “borrowing.” So quit calling it “borrowing”!

It is bad enough that Lorenzen &ucked over the taxpayers of Paso by his theft of equipment and funds, and it is just made worse when the administration of Paso first refused to investigate Lorenzen’ s crimes, and then sanctified the taxpayer &ucking by approving the ridiculous plea bargain.

Then, of course, there are posters who are trying so desperately to change their Lorenzen into a victim, going so far as to try to redefine the definition of “theft” to “borrowing,” and insisting that other posters say it is “borrowing.”

So enough of trying to rewrite Lorenzen’ s criminal history. You are just making him look worse.

Sorry Mary, you are really pretty pathetic. The DA looked back many years into the credit card use and found nothing. For the 1000th time, a disgruntled employee who Charles gave a poor review to turned in the credit cards that started the investigation. Nothing was found with the credit cards. There were serious allegations that amounted to nothing, hence the reduced charges. I know him personally and you have no clue as to what your spewing so stfu.

Evidently there was a pattern of misbehavior: Missing gas, missing materials, credit card fraud, missing gas, missing materials, credit card fraud…. Do you notice a pattern at all Sherlock?!

Thousands of dollars of Gasoline, Landscaping Materials, and unauthorized credit card use is a moderate loss that could not have been taken all at one time, so if you don’t see where the pattern is, you don’t have the logic one needs to play hopscotch! Much less work for the Government, unless of course you’re Monica Lewinsky.

Some things just don’t need physical evidence to make obvious.

Work for the mob (I mean government), no chance. If you take the time to read all my posts, you will see I stated what you just did. Borrowing is stealing in the eyes of the law. Even in this case where many others within the city of Paso Robles have done the same. Charles is no low life, trust me. He made one bad decision in 13 years by borrowing that stuff. This was a witch hunt, plain and simple. Charles was not a conformist to the corrupt system of Paso Robles.

You have it right, he made one bad decision or at least one bad decision that he got caught on. Most criminals lead a life of crime and then they finally get caught. And oh yes, he is a victim. Get real, the residents of Paso are the victims.

Why don’t you just use the “He’s-just-a-puppy” excuse and be done with it?

He did not borrow the city’s property, he stole it. That is the term used when someone takes possession of another person’s property without permission.

whatdouno, show us the proof that he isn’t a thief. Show us the proof that he was set up. The facts were clear in the prosecutors files – he misappropriated city assets for personal gain, committed grand theft and petty theft. He abused his position of trust and responsibility and he should go to prison. Why do you defend him so much? Are you connected to him? Jail house conc or what?

Me thinks thou doest protest too much! Maybe you are the spineless waste of human life that turned false allegation over to the after he had already owned up and resigned for his actions.

Let me take a stab in the dark, you are just a low life hiding behind false pride pointing fingers.

Just because someone resigned after he felt he was in trouble for fraud and embezzlement of city funds and property does NOT mean he should get a free pass for those crimes.

City administration did their best to ignore the complaints and evidence from other staff members until they had no choice but to investigate.

Lorenzen has been treated with kid gloves by App and his cabal, and the county prosecutors played right along with it.

I think the only way our county will ever get cleaned up is to have the State step in with an investigation. I just wonder how bad it has to get and how much residents have to suffer before that happens.

You may be right here. I found out that CCN sometimes doesn’t get the facts right or misses important ones in their reporting (CAPSLO). They then refuse to followup when called out and issue appropriate corrections and/or apologies. I get the feeling that the hits they get by fueling “a fire of dissension” is worth more to them than honesty when the two conflict.

I wonder how many other regulars on this site will get the opportunity to discover that CCN sometimes gets it wrong (or at least grossly exaggerates for the sake of controversy)? If they don’t have the integrity to admit their mistakes or biases, they will eventually lose the respect of enough people to fade away into an internet graveyard. I am still here because the alternatives offer inferior coverage (New Times), almost no coverage (TV, the Trib) or consistently biased coverage (the Trib). But I won’t offer even modest financial support to an organization that won’t try for HIGH ethical standards.

PS I will take this opportunity to apologize for my earlier smart-ass comment which was made on the assumption that the article was accurate and that Lorenzen was a “crony” of App.

The issue with App is he did the hiring and then turned a blind eye to Lorenson’ s crimes which the Paso taxpayers will, once again, have to fund. Then, when other Paso employees provided proof of the crimes, and App was forced to deal with it, he approved a slap-on-the-wrist 20 days in jail.

Perhaps you might want to consider that the City did an investigation and found the allegations to be unfounded, with the exception of the equipment being borrowed.

Perhaps you may want to give credence to the fact that the DA’s office found exactly the same thing, and they had no option but to drop the felony charges and save face by getting the plea bargain for what little wrong doing there was in fact.

Perhaps you may want to give consideration to the the fact that the self righteous employee who ran the alleged evidence to the police department was just a sad, pathetic individual who thinks more highly of himself than he should and was not as smart as he thinks he is.

Perhaps you really should stop and think that if Charles is such a cohort of corruption with App that none of this would have ever come to light and he would still be employed consorting with the other criminals.

Perhaps you may want to remember that the only reason an “investigation” was done at all is because the worker you slam for bringing proof to Paso admin was brave enough to take a stand when Chief Burton and App had refused to investigate previous complaints.

They did not want to investigate, and their results reflect that. Then they allowed a ridiculous plea down amounting to a slap on the wrist.

whatdouno, show us the proof that he isn’t a thief. Show us the proof that he was set up. The facts were clear in the prosecutors files – he misappropriated city assets for personal gain, committed grand theft and petty theft. He abused his position of trust and responsibility and he should go to prison. Why do you defend him so much? Are you connected to him? Jail house conc or what?

I did not get, from reading the article, that App and Lorenson are cronies, so don’t go blaming CNN for your own assumption.

I do question why Lorenson got such special treatment from the prosecutors. His plea for dropping THREE felonies and a pittance restitution of $680 when it was thousands of dollars of embezzlement and theft he was facing.

That is a slap on the wrist, and somebody with power in Paso had to approve of it. I am betting it was App.

Yet you have already admitted Lorenzen did take materials and equipment, without permission, from the city.

Unfortunately there is still much corruption with the current City of PR Management. Robert Burton violated his own policy when he used his position as the PRPD Chief to back Tim Covello for DA. He represented the entire Dept. in a negative way and should be fired. His policy expressly prohibits using his position as a PRPD employee for political purpose. App won’t do anything because he has been covering up corruption for years which includes many illegal acts. As you can see I use my real name and as a retired PRPD Officer I challenge the City to prove my allegations wrong! App and Burton need to go, wake up Paso Robles.

Spoken by someone who knows. If the citizens of this city keep electing the lackeys to the city council, we can expect much of the same. Hamon and Steinbeck have their noses so far up Jim App’s rear end they can’t even see. Both of them put Jim App above any citizen of the city like he is some kind of saint. Fred Strong is no better. He is a used vacuum cleaner salesman at best.

Worse, the city and its residents will continue to have thieves like Lorenzen as long as the residents continue to elect Jim App sycophants.

Of course there is still pervasive corruption, Charles was never part of it; so nothing has changed in that arena.

Of course. Lorenson is part of the corruption! What were those credit card receipts for? His use of government property and supplies?

The big question is this: what is the relationship between App and Lorenson which convinced App to protect Lorenson from investigation? Why did another employee have to hand carry proof of Lorenson ‘s crimes to the police department before it was investigated?

Also, what transpired between Paso and the prosecutors to get the three FELONY charges dropped and the “restitution” dropped from thousands of dollars to $680?

Lorenson got mighty special treatment from the prosecutors, and there has to be a reason why.

There was no theft I. All those receipts you assuming fool!

You keep saying there was no theft, despite the fact that Lorenzen took possession of city property for his own use without permission from the owner . That makes YOU the fool.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of “steal”:


verb \ˈstēl\

: to take (something that does not belong to you) in a way that is wrong or illegal

: to take (something that you are not supposed to have) without asking for permission“

Uh Yeah, Mary. Pretty simple no crime, no evidence, no conviction.

It must be pretty hard being the only perfect person in the world having to live with all the rest of us mere mortals and having only one point of view based on your own definition of right and wrong.

I’ve always gleaned that you were an intelligent woman from your postings, but you have clearly shown what you are really made of in this attack on someone where you have no basis in fact.

Because you hate App, (which by the way I do too, even more now) don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. You are way off base in this matter.

Anybody, anywhere for any reason can grab a handful of credit card receipts and take them to the police and claim they are from fraudulent use. Anybody, anywhere for any reason in this town can call foul about corruption and wrong doing and create a stir and get everybody’s panties in a bunch.

Big question, have you seen Jim App fall? or any of the other minions of real corruption? No and there’s a reason; they protect their own.

An awful lot of bs and zero evidence to try to protect a thief and embezzeler. Are all your friends of such low character?

By the way, it is not my definition of write and wrong…It is the legal and moral definition of right and wrong.

Great to see you posting, Jon.

Hmmmm…jail time for the city landscaper vs a huge pay out for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

City Hall must seem like a two story outhouse with management occupying the upper floor.

Unfortunately, it is the Paso taxpayers who occupy the first floor.

All you negative posters don’t have a clue. There were zero credit card purchases made for personal use. Only allegations made by Charles’ subordinate who had received a bad review and was trying to get back at Charles. Charles borrowed a rototillar and a weedeater, nothing more, nothing less. The restitution is for those two items. As for,the maintenance employee that took in the credit cards, he will get his. Just wait for the list of all the other employees that have done much worse. Letter to idiot App: I want you to charge to employees that routinely park their 5th wheels during the fair and steal our power at the maintenance yard.

So he is going to jail for the crime of borrowing a roto tiller. Thats the kind of thing you get reprimanded for, not prosecuted for. My neighbor borrowed my lawn mower last weekend and hes not going to jail. Wake up and smell the coffee sir.

Here is the problem I (as others might) have with your argument. You say he borrowed a weedeater and tiller. O.k. I can go with that but then why plead out if that is your most serious offence that they have you on? We see what time and money he had to deal with in the end for tiller and weedeater, so again why the plea?

The cost of a trial isn’t cheap, sometimes you have to make a deal with the devil. Sad but true. But at least he’s not working for the devil anymore.

Wouldn’t the union pay for his legal defense?

Plus he just made over $50,000 on his taxpayer paid vacation, without having to spend anything related to having to go to work like regular folks

What he did was wrong even though it seems minor which it was. By definition, even borrowing the two items can still be considered embezzlement because the value of the items is over $1000. He did not make $50,000 on his taxpayer paid vacation. When all the bs credit card crap came up, Charles knew he was being set up and he resigned so don’t spew what you do not know Mr. regular folk. And ask the DA how many of those credit card purchases proved to be anything more than just city purchases. The answer, zero. This was a witch hunt by someone who had a poor review because he is just a pos employee sucking off of our tax dollars.

You say Lorenzen was “set up” and that is why he resigned. Where is the proof of that? I have not even seen proof that he resigned.

I find it more likely that he knew his crimes were uncovered and hoped that IF he resigned it would make it more likely the city admin would not take it to court.

I also have not seen any evidence supporting claims that this pathetic investigation into claims of credit card and equipment theft was because a negative performance review led to a disgruntled employee making up claims about Lorenzen.

I find it more likely that Lorenzen knew the subordinate had the goods on Lorenzen’s crimes and Lorenzen issued a falsely negative performance review as a means of sending a threat to the subordinate…In other words, the threat was the subordinate had better back off on complaints about Lorenzen’ s theft or the subordinate would be fired.

If the latter is the case, the subordinate should file a whistle-blower suit against Paso, Lorenzen, App, Burton and anyone else involved in the conspiracy to silence the subordinate.

What are you talking about? He hasn’t been on paid leave he resigned months ago? The creep who told the lies about credit card charges did it after he had already resigned. He’s hardly been on vacation.

Why are you just trying to stir up crap, what is there to gain? You must be one of those fortunate people who are without sin so you can cast stones.

Charles has owned his mistake, while the rest of the real corruption still continues. You are either a fool or a moron, or both!

Proof please, and from you not just telling us that it’s out there and we just need to look it up. There is the email senior yak. It is public record by the way.

Seems like Lorenzen hoped his resignation would stop the city from prosecution…which it seems the city was willing to do, apparently, because they had refused to investigate previous complaints of Lorenzen’ s crimes.

Except the whistleblower employee refused to participate in the city admin’ s cover-up.

Good for him. I hope he files a whistleblower lawsuit. That might actually get the State involved.

Again, with the name-calling. And, of course, plenty of red-herrings and messenger-blaming.

But not a sound argument to support your opinion.

Yes you are right that, that is EXACTLY why prosecutors plea, cost. Doesn’t mean they didn’t have the goods on him. So again that says to me that the gentleman here wasn’t necessarily all innocent and only borrowed a weedeater.

His Salary is paid by us..the tax payers, he makes 100k plus a year.

they should forefit his pension and kick his a– out of the County.

maybe he will get a little special treatment in jail….

Remember the guy from SLO that turned in a County mower for scrap, then bought it back from the scrapyard to sell? Whatever happened to him? Bonus perhaps?

anyone care to wager whether or not the Trib will cover this conviction?

Will they cover for Jim App and his taxpaid advertising/public notice dollars to the Trib?

Will they stand up for the taxpayers? …. or

Will they simply stick their head up their Duerr?