Arroyo Grande man sentenced in embezzlement case

July 5, 2014
Robert Perez

Robert Perez

An Arroyo Grande man was sentenced on Thursday to three years in state prison for stealing $113,000 from the Santa Barbara County Firefighters Union. [Independent]

A 20-year-veteran of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Robert Perez was elected by the union to manage its $1 million-per-year insurance account in 2001. His fellow firefighters and union brothers agreed to pay Perez $400 a month on top of his firefighter’s salary for handling the account and paying expenses.

However, between 2006 and 2013 Perez siphoned money from the account to buy his wife jewelry, pay for her cell phone, to purchase a laptop and assist the couple in trading in their old house in Arroyo Grande for a more expensive home. The union discovered the thefts last August during an audit.

In Perez’ defense, his attorney Steve Balash said that Perez had gotten into a bind after adopting his wife’s special needs children, who they received monthly government checks for. Balash argued that Perez’ years of service to the community, rescue work, and multiple awards were examples of his character.


Here we go again with a P.O.S. lawyer excusing everything his client did. Oh he was a decent guy that just happened to steal over a 100k. Yea all decent people do that. Hell people thought Ted Bundy was a nice looking guy too!!! Reason #10 why I think most lawyers are a P.O. S.


To serve and collect.


San Luis will hire him, they love these kind of guys.


No doubt he’ll get his job back serving his time!!!


The public-sector unions are robbing the public because they are organized-crime organizations.

The public-employees who join public-sector unions are morally unfit welfare-parasites.

Public-sector unions have no place in government.


We are the parents of the two children who were adopted, and would just like to correct the record. First, Bob filed for guardianship of the boys by himself as soon as he realized he was facing trouble, financially because he was forced to retire. He lied and my mother lied with him. Unfortunately, given his title, his words were taken as factual evidence. To make sure his lies were taken seriously, he took these two boys, forbid new pediatricians to speak with either my husband and I, and lied to the doctors about a past, which never existed. They are not special needs, he simply needed to make sure his check was bigger each month.

Whats pathetic, is no one, and I mean NO ONE, has taken the case of our children seriously. We have so much evidence and people continue to ignore it. I wish anyone would be passionate enough to touch on these matters more, because if a pathetic washed up POS can do this to us, then it could happen to any parent, any family, at any moment, and I don’t wish this pain on anyone. Thanks again for your article, it captures truth in the words, I just wanted to make sure our children know that their parents are still struggling to get them home.


I would say you should change your name from “hopeless” to something more positive. Taking you at your word…after all you are claiming to be someone but posting with an anonymous name…and seeing that this guy IS a worthless P.O.S. who stole, someone HAS to take you seriously and help you through the legal jungle you are stuck in. Trust me, I have first hand knowledge of how a worthless P.O.S. can make things miserable for someone who has done nothing but be kind and honest. Hang in there, I will be praying for you.


I don’t understand the system, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department reused to acknowledge my e-mails or calls, same with the DA. This is unbelievable, I can’t believe that no cares about family or children enough to fix their mistakes. I wish what you said was true, “someone HAS to take me seriously…” If I had the money for an attorney, maybe then someone would. Thanks anyways, your comment had picked up my spirits. My name is Shannon Thompson my email, Take care.


No excuse for lying or stealing. Period.


A union boss that is a thief, say it isn’t so! This sounds like that Ronica character at the City of San Luis Obispo based upon the articles in the paper – “City Employee accused of Bilking City”. In Santa Barbara they fire employees for theft of City and union resources at San Luis Obispo they just reward them – see article about “rewarding dubious behavior”. Gotta wonder who else is on the take up the ladder at the City of San Luis Obispo. No on Measure Y or maybe yes and maybe the theft of City resources will stop – doubtful.


Key word “WERE” examples of his character.

You get in a bind so you spend somebodies else’s money to buy your wife jewelry, a lap top ect?

You are pretty sick to steal from your brothers who trusted you with their lives and who also have years of service to the community & rescue work. You pay them back by stealing from them.

It would be nice if people like you were to lose your retirement because of your actions, or atleast they can take the money out of your retirement account.


What a good idea! He will no doubt get 3%of his highest salary at age 50, multiplied by the number of years he worked for the government. As a 20 year veteran, if he was making $100K a year (pretty conservative guess actually) he will get 60% (3% X 20) of $100K or $60,000 a year, $5 K a month, for the rest of his his life, from us taxpayers. Or to put it another way, a person would need $2 million at 3% interest to generate $60,000 in income every year. This is why PERS is so underfunded. We have made multi-millionaires out of rank and file workers..

Nothing was said about restitution. From my own experience of being a crime victim, restitution is a joke. But I sure hope he is made to pay back the money PLUS!!! He betrayed his fellow workers and the public. But no doubt he will be out in a few months, sent to jail under realignment, and ultimately free within 18 months – free to prey on others. How sad.


Well Hell.. I often help old ladies across the street, I rescued our dog and I pick up after others cause their to lazy. Guess that makes it OK to steal from others cause I have “good character”.