Former Gilroy Councilman Convicted of Grand Theft

Craig Gartman entered a no-contest plea to stealing money from the Memorial Day Parade Committee that he headed.

A former Gilroy councilman accused of stealing more than $8,000 from the city's Memorial Day parade fund over a period of six years has been convicted of one count of misdemeanor grand theft, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Craig Gartman, 53, entered a no-contest plea on Thursday to stealing the money from the privately run Memorial Day Parade Committee that he headed from 2002 to 2008, the district attorney's office said.

He was placed on two years of court probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, the district attorney's office said.

Gartman solicited donations from local businesses every spring, and told donors that the money would be used to finance Memorial Day festivities.

Although the majority of this money was used for that purpose -- including reimbursement of the committee members' personal expenses in support of the event -- Gartman took $8,682.32 from the committee's bank account for his own benefit, according to the district attorney's office.

First elected to the Gilroy City Council in 2001, Gartman was reelected in 2005 and served as a councilman until 2010.

He was arrested in June and charged with felony grand theft. The charge was reduced to a misdemeanor when Gartman produced in court a $6,200 cashier's check to the nonprofit Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Gilroy, which represented the balance of what he owed in restitution.

He made his first restitution payment of $2,500 to the organization in November 2010 prior to being charged in the case.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, a nonprofit with similar charitable purposes, was selected to receive the restitution funds after the parade committee headed by Gartman disbanded in 2008, according to the district attorney's office.

Bay City News

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