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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Former Joint Powers Authority Finance Director Sentenced To A Year In Prison And Six Months Home Confinement

Former Employee of Association of Bay Area Governments Embezzled Nearly $3.9 Million

SAN FRANCISCO– Clarke J. Howatt was sentenced today to a year and a day in prison for his conviction for wire fraud stemming from a series of embezzlements from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the related ABAG Finance Authority for Nonprofit Corporations (FAN), announced Acting United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.

Howatt, 56, who now resides in Portland, Ore., pleaded guilty on December 15, 2015, to committing wire fraud.  In connection with his plea agreement, Howatt acknowledged perpetrating a scheme to embezzle funds from various bond accounts and other accounts established by FAN.  Howatt is the former finance director of ABAG, a state Joint Powers Agency formed in the 1960s for the principal purpose of providing its members with planning and advice regarding land use issues.  FAN was formed as a separate legal entity to act as a conduit issuer of debt instruments, or bonds. As part of his plea agreement, Howatt admitted he provided false information to the trustees of bond accounts and to others in order to fraudulently induce people to wire funds from FAN bond accounts and other accounts, to bank accounts that Howatt controlled.  Howatt admitted that from June 2011 through January 2015, he embezzled a total of $3,876,135.21.  Howatt, was charged in an information filed on February 13, 2015, with the single count of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and pleaded guilty to that charge.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, U.S. District Judge.  In addition to the prison term, Judge Breyer also sentenced the defendant to a three year period of supervised release, six months of which will be served in home confinement.  Howatt will begin serving the sentence no later than May 23, 2016.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kyle Waldinger and David Countryman are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Jessica Meegan and Carolyn Jusay.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI. 

Updated March 23, 2016