SAN FRANCISCO—After over a million dollars worth of bond money had disappeared from the South of Market Community Stabilization fund, a Bay Area public finance official has been linked to the massive Rincon Hill embezzlement scheme.
City officials are currently working to determine if Clarke Howatt is the man behind the missing bond money after it was discovered missing during a routine December audit.
Howatt allegedly posed as a developer for Rincon Hill in a plot to extract $1.3 million of bond money from a fund intended to finance community projects. Only three days after Howatt allegedly posed as Rincon Hill, he reportedly purchased a $1.53 million home along the Oregon coast.
A bureaucrat who has worked for the Association of Bay Area Governments, Howatt is an art collector who owns several chunks of prime real estate. On January 30, he resigned as the director of financial services for the ABAG.
In his resignation letter he wrote: “I will make every attempt to get the funds restored” and “I’ll try my best to get the money replaced as soon as I can.”
The city is currently looking into how to recover the lost funds. A community advisory committee tasked with responsibly spending the bond money on public projects, is currently looking into a means of recovery.
“I’m outraged that this money that was supposed to be going to neighborhood improvements was given back to a developer without so much as a courtesy phone call,” committee member Tom Temprano said. “The bottom line is we are committed to doing whatever is necessary to get the funds back from the developer and into the community where they belong.”