Ex-deputy in Hollister accused of embezzling remains at large

Former sheriff's deputy Jason Lei

While retired Hollister police Sgt. Ray Wood awaits court
proceedings in the embezzlement case against him, another former
law enforcement officer connected to the area remains at large for
similar charges levied in 2010.
While retired Hollister police Sgt. Ray Wood awaits court proceedings in the embezzlement case against him, another former law enforcement officer connected to the area remains at large for similar charges levied in 2010.

Wood, a longtime police department veteran before retiring at the end of 2010, surrendered to custody Aug. 18 after the attorney general’s office charged him that week on suspicion of embezzling more than $100,000 from the Hollister police union.

It isn’t just the police department union, however, that experienced problems with embezzlement allegations in recent years.

Hollister police conducted an investigation against former sheriff’s deputy Jason Lei – suspected of embezzling from the sheriff deputies union in late 2009 or early 2010 – and in May 2010 obtained a warrant for his arrest with bail set at $10,000, according to court records. By then, though, his whereabouts were unknown and authorities have yet to track him down.

“We don’t know where he is,” Hollister police Capt. David Westrick said Monday. “Obviously, we’d like to place him into custody.”

Westrick noted that the police department had put out “be on the lookout” alerts to other law enforcement agencies, including the federal authorities.

It remains unclear whether Lei may have fled to another state or country.

“If he’s not in the country, then there’d be hope we could extradite him,” Westrick said.

Lei, 37, is suspected of embezzlement from the deputies association while serving as its treasurer, according to court records.

At about 7 a.m. May 14, Hollister police officers reported they went to a residence in the unincorporated area of San Juan Bautista to serve both a search warrant and a felony arrest warrant in conjunction with the fraud investigation. Lei’s last-known address listed in records was in the 300 block of Via Vaquero Norte Drive in the San Juan area.

Authorities did not locate Lei during the search, but investigators alleged they did find evidence of a crime along with his personal property, including a vehicle.

The suspected acts are believed to have occurred in Hollister, San Juan Bautista and unincorporated San Benito County. To avoid a conflict of interest, the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office requested that the Hollister Police Department conduct the investigation.

Hollister police are looking for Lei to serve the arrest warrant, charging him with two counts of embezzling property by a public/private officer and another count accusing him of grand theft in relation to unauthorized use of an access card.

It is unknown whether he is armed. Anyone with information is requested to call police at (831) 636-4330. People wishing to remain anonymous may call WeTIP at (800) 78-CRIME. Information provided to WeTIP may qualify for a reward.

The sheriff deputies union president, Mike Mull, could not be reached immediately.

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