KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – An employee at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office was arrested after she spent over $20,000 of taxpayer money on personal purchases from Costco and Amazon, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The discovery was made after a series of informal meetings between the DA and her employees – revealing the taxpayer-funded spending spree of Victim Witness Program Director Julia Patino.

Deputies say the District Attorney was told by an employee that Patino had taken a generator purchased with taxpayer money to her home and had been using it for personal camping trips in her travel trailer with her family.

Patino initially denied having possession of the generator, but when confronted according to deputies she admitted to having it and stated, “yes, I forgot, and the only reason it was there was to run fuel through it.”

Officials say Patino turned the generator over to District Attorney employees and it was determined that the generator had 74 hours of use on the meter.  Detectives say they concluded the 74 hours of use was much more than merely running fuel through it and that it had, in fact, never been used at work or for work-related events.

Detectives say Patino also used her county-issued credit card at Costco, using her personal Costco membership, and coded the generator purchase to grant funds intended for a mobile crisis trailer.

According to detectives, the generator would not have been available to victims in Kings County had a mass casualty incident occurred during her possession and illegal use of it, outside of Kings County.

Additionally, detectives say they discovered Julia Patino had made multiple other county credit card charges from Costco and Amazon, totaling $19,958.94, in addition to the generator.

Detectives learned the Amazon purchases had been made through Patino’s personal Amazon account and had those purchases delivered to her home in the City of Visalia. Kings County had recently instructed all county employees to use Amazon Business accounts and Patino did not move her Amazon account to a business account, as instructed, and did not use the Kings County shipping and receiving location for delivery, according to officials.

Detectives say Patino told a co-worker how well the generator worked during a recent camping trip she took during the holiday season.  Many witnesses reported similar behaviors and felt compelled to inform investigators of Patino’s misuse of government-owned property.

Detectives say they also discovered that during one of her camping trips, in which Patino utilized the Kings County-owned generator, she was also allowing improper access and use of her issued Kings County District Attorney’s Office computer by family members.

With the cooperation of other Kings County District Attorney employees, Detectives have been able to account for many of the items Patino had purchased. However, the inventory has not been fully accounted for – and detectives believe Patino remains in possession of the remaining items.

According to detectives, the missing items that have not been accounted for are 72 boxes of Kleenex, 2 dog baths, 3 men’s grooming kits, 1 six-foot folding bench, 6 easel pads (pack of 2), 5 tablecloths (4 feet in length), and 2 stainless dog bowls.

On May 10, Kings County Sheriff’s Detectives say they executed a search warrant in the City of Visalia at Patino’s home. After the search, Patino was arrested and issued a citation for Penal Code 424(a)(1), crime against revenue and property of this state.

The case will be forwarded to the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. 

The Sheriff’s Office is asking for any witnesses or anyone who may have information about the allegations to contact the Kings County Sheriff’s Detectives at (559) 852-4627.