Retired police Sgt. Ray Wood accepts plea deal, faces jail time

Ray Wood pleaded no contest to grand theft.

Retired Hollister police Sgt. Ray Wood, who ran for San Benito County sheriff in 2010, has accepted a plea deal on a grand theft charge for embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the city officers’ union and could spend six months in jail, according to court records.

Wood, 54, was scheduled for a routine hearing Feb. 17 as a precursor to a Feb. 27 preliminary examination, where a judge decides if there is enough evidence for a trial. At the Feb. 17 hearing, Wood pleaded no contest to the lone count against him, a felony grand theft charge, according to the records.  

The judge’s notes in the case file indicate Wood will not be eligible for probation. The conviction calls for a three-year prison term, but 30 months of the sentence will be suspended, meaning he is expected to serve six months behind bars. He also will owe restitution to the victim – in this case, the police union – but a potential amount remains unclear. The judge’s notes do say Wood admitted to stealing more than $65,000.

Wood previously pleaded not guilty to allegations he embezzled around $100,000 from the Hollister Police Officers Association during a period of more than six years starting in March 2004 when he had been union president.

He remains out on $60,000 bail and is scheduled for sentencing at 1:30 p.m. April 27 at the San Benito County Courthouse in the case prosecuted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office to prevent a conflict of interest for local prosecutors.

Wood retired from the Hollister Police Department at the end of 2010 after more than 25 years there. That year, he also finished with the third-highest vote count in the sheriff’s race won by Darren Thompson.

The state attorney general’s office filed the grand theft charge to coincide with an arrest warrant. It followed a five-month probe conducted by an appointed investigator from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

Outside investigator Terrence Simpson reported the suspected embezzlement occurred between the start of March 2004 and the end of December 2010, when Wood retired and handed over union duties he had held the prior 14 years.

The criminal complaint alleged that Wood withdrew portions of deposits in cash and used the police-union checking account to fund activities unrelated to the organization.

Wood’s attorney, Michael Rains, could not be reached immediately.

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