This Might Be It

This Might Be It

Opponents of Sentinel Offender Services, the for-profit private probation company that has found itself in the crosshairs of local attorneys and on the airwaves (though unidentified) in a May 23 story on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” might have finally gotten the break they need — from the inside.

In April, Steven A. Hagstrom, controller at Irvine, California-based Sentinel, was accused of diverting approximately $3.3 million of the company’s revenue deposits to himself.

How’s that for dirty laundry?

According to court documents filed in Orange County, Hagstrom “knowingly and intentionally embezzled, stole, obtained by fraud, misapplied, and without authority” transferred funds totaling approximately $3.3 million from Sentinel’s bank accounts into a clearinghouse account and then into his own personal accounts.

On April 25, Hagstrom submitted a plea agreement, pleading guilty to the one count of embezzlement he was charged with.
What’s interesting — beyond the fact that Sentinel is making so much money that $3.3 million in missing funds could actually go unnoticed — is the fact that the plea was apparently worked out in advance. And here’s the thing about that — and the thing that might be making some people start to sweat: someone as high up as Hagstrom ought to know if there were any kickbacks being paid for all those lucrative contracts, something opponents have long suspected. And someone as desperate as Hagstrom might just be motivated enough to come clean about it, since ratting someone out at the federal level gets you a reduction when it comes to sentencing guidelines.

The situation is fluid and you can bet there’s a lot of that Law and Order stuff going on in the background. But stay tuned. This just might be it.

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