SANTA ANA — Former Compton Deputy Treasurer Salvador Galvan was sentenced Nov. 3 to 6 1/2 years in federal prison for stealing more than $3.7 million in city funds in a scheme that also involved his wife, who was ordered to perform 800 hours of community service and serve one year of home confinement.
Galvan, 47, and his wife, who both pleaded guilty in July to one federal count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds, apologized for their crimes.
“I deeply and sincerely regret my actions,” he said, adding that his crimes “weigh heavily on my conscience. … It pains me that I disappointed myself, my family and everyone who put me in a position of trust.”
Galvan said he has been picking up new computer skills in jail classes so he can better his chances of landing a job when he’s released from prison and pay $3.72 million in restitution.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan O’Brien had advocated for a 46-month sentence for Galvan and 10 months home confinement for his wife, Rosa Maria, noting the two quickly pleaded guilty, cooperated fully in attempts to track down the money and have tried their best to pay back the stolen funds.
Galvan’s former boss, Compton City Treasurer Douglas Sanders, said he forgave the Galvans, but he argued that they needed to be held to a higher standard and deserved tougher punishments than recommended by O’Brien. Sanders noted multiple cases of corruption in the city that he had a hand in uncovering and said in each case, he would gather together his staff, including the Galvans, and remind them of their “fiduciary responsibility.”
“It’s a betrayal of our city,” Sanders said. “It’s a betrayal of staff that looked up to Sal, and it’s a betrayal to me.”
U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton, who had the case assigned from Los Angeles to her Santa Ana courtroom, agreed. She said a stricter punishment was in order for Salvador Galvan because he had more than one technical victim — the city of Compton — when factoring in all of the constituents who paid cash for a fee or citation to the city and for those who were denied services because of a lack of funds.
Galvan engaged in virtually daily criminal behavior for a six-year period, the judge said.
“Defendant’s crime first and foremost is a crime of greed,” Staton said.
Rosa Galvan, who worked in the treasurer’s office many years ago and met her husband on the job, struggled to hold back tears as she apologized for her crimes.
“I would just like to apologize to the city of Compton,” she said, then turned to Sanders and said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Sanders.”
Staton initially told the defendant that she, like her husband, deserved time behind bars and appeared unconvinced by arguments from O’Brien and the defendant’s attorney, Carrie Heieck, who said her client is a primary caregiver for her paraplegic son and the sole breadwinner for her own family, which also includes a 13-year-old.
Staton noted that the defendant is paid by the state for the caregiver work and that her son is 30 years old, married and has three children of his own, and said the woman’s extended family, who benefited from the thefts, could “step up” and care for the teen.
O’Brien argued that Rosa Galvan “was put in this position by her husband. She had the option of turning him in or accepting the money and spending it on her family.”
Staton replied, “There was a third option — she could have said, ‘I know this is illegal activity, stop this and I won’t participate.’” But the judge also acknowledged unspecified “health issues” Rosa Galvan is dealing with.
Salvador Galvan, who worked in the Compton Treasurer’s Office for more than 20 years, was responsible for tallying the cash received by the city as payment for parking tickets, business licenses and other fees. After the cash was counted, he prepared the money for deposit into a city bank account.
According to court documents, he skimmed cash from City Hall over a six-year period, taking anywhere from $200 to $8,000 a day. The losses were small enough that they didn’t trigger alarm, but fellow employees said they wondered how Galvan could afford a new Audi and other expenses on a $60,000 annual salary.
Rosa Galvan, who agreed to hand over the keys to a 2013 Nissan Frontier and a 2012 Honda Pilot to the government as part of her plea deal, received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in either cash or money orders from her husband, according to court papers. She used stolen money to pay $14,000 in cash for the Honda on Oct. 14, 2015, at an Irvine dealership.
Court documents show that she made cash deposits of $211,044 into her account from February 2012 through August of last year.