Arraignment scheduled for man suspected in nonprofit embezzlement scheme

Jorge Briones

Jorge Briones, the former Morgan Hill Downtown Association executive director who is accused of embezzling funds from the nonprofit organization, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday, Dec. 21 at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill, according to authorities.

Briones, 48, was arrested last week after Morgan Hill police spent more than a year investigating accusations that he stole more than $29,000 from the MHDA over a two-year period.

He is charged with embezzlement and grand theft, police said. Briones is out of custody on $50,000 bail.

Authorities think Briones stole money from the MHDA by writing checks from the association’s bank account and cashing them. He allegedly listed the checks in the MHDA’s accounting system as being paid to vendors or to cover work-related expenses, while he offered no receipts or other documents to support the reimbursement expenses.

Briones allegedly wrote more than 50 checks to himself in this scheme, which took place from June 2009 to May 2011, police said.

Briones was hired by the MHDA in 2007 as event coordinator, and was promoted to executive director in 2008.

In May 2011, the MHDA board of directors eliminated Briones’ position in order to cut costs in the anticipation that the association was going to lose a key source of funding – the Morgan Hill redevelopment agency – later that year.

Briones was paid a salary of about $50,000 while he was the MHDA’s executive director, according to police reports.

He opened the 9Lives club in downtown Gilroy in January 2011.

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