Holzworth pleads guilty to all charges

Erik Jorgensen, Editor-at-Large

Jeffrey Holzworth pleaded guilty to all charges at his April 2 preliminary hearing in a plea deal with a four-year maximum sentence for embezzling almost $300,000 from Santa Rosa Junior College parking meters. Holzworth accepted full responsibility for 11 counts of receiving stolen property and one count of embezzlement but the preliminary hearing continues for his wife Karen, still facing three charges of receiving stolen property and one charge of acting as an accessory.

Holzworth did not comment after the hearing. His sentencing is scheduled for May 29. Prosecutors want prison time for Holzworth but his attorney Joe Passalacqua plans to ask for probation.

Outside the courtroom Passalacqua said, “He’s taken full responsibility since the beginning, only The People are pursuing his wife who had nothing to do with it. That’s why the case didn’t resolve sooner.” Holzworth’s enhanced felony charges make him ineligible for probation. Passalacqua said the “presumptive preclusion” against probation could be overturned under unusual circumstances. “He’s 53 years old with no prior record,” Passalacqua said. “He’s been a contributing member of the SRJC community for 28 years, until this last unfortunate situation.”

Holzworth was SRJC’s May 2005 Employee of the Month and held sole responsibility, without oversight, of collecting money from SRJC’s parking meters and computerized parking permit machines. Prosecutors claim the 28-year SRJC District Police veteran embezzled nearly $300,000 since 2005, and enhanced grand theft charges against Holzworth for an amount over $150,000.

Santa Rosa Police detective Mark Azzouni served his search warrant on Holzworth’s personal and police vehicles, his work space and his house on Nov. 28, 2012. Detectives discovered several caches of coins and small bills totaling $14,259, including $2,622 in Holzworth’s personal possession when arrested. Azzouni testified at the April 2 preliminary hearing that detectives found cash and coins in “throughout the house,” in bedrooms, the garage and the kitchen.

Azzouni described at the preliminary hearing how he reviewed bank accounts in the Holzworth’s names. Transaction records showed several cash deposits of large amounts of $1 and $5 bills accompanied by a withdrawal of the same amount in larger bills. Azzouni examined his notes to relate the number of such transactions each year going back to 2005, including 37 exchanges in 2012 alone.

The preliminary hearing against Karen Holzworth continued at 2:33 p.m. for three charges of receiving stolen property and one charge of acting as an accessory.

Azzouni testified about jailhouse recordings of 22 conversations between Holzworth and his wife. Two recorded conversations were played in the courtroom.

Holzworth said, “You told me to stop doing it; I didn’t listen. It’s all on me.”

Karen said, “Yes, but I knew about it so doesn’t that make it on me, too?”

Holzworth said they had been snowballing financially, and that he had been “trying to keep us afloat the last four or five years.”

Outside the courtroom Azzouni could not comment on the specific locations of any of the stashed cash his search warrant discovered. When the preliminary hearing continued, Azzouni testified detectives discovered coins and cash in several locations in the Holzworth’s kitchen, bedroom, garage, attic and crawlspace.

Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite found enough evidence to continue the trial against Karen Holzworth, but dropped one felony charge and reduced another to a misdemeanor. Karen will go to trial for one felony count of receiving stolen property, one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property and one count of acting as an accessory.

The next step in Karen Holzworth’s trial is a filing of information hearing at 9 a.m. April 14.