Thursday, 02 February 2023

Search warrant served in senior center investigation

LUCERNE – On Wednesday officials served a search warrant at the home of a former senior center executive director in connection with an ongoing investigation into missing funds.


District Attorney Jon Hopkins said that his office served the warrant on the Sixth Avenue home of Rowland Mosser, 63, the former executive director of the Lucerne Senior Center.


“We obtained a search warrant so that we could determine whether there was any information that he had that would assist us in proving whether there was an embezzlement at Lucerne Senior Center,” Hopkins said Wednesday afternoon.


As Lake County News first began reporting last February, allegations of missing funds at the Lucerne Senior Center have been examined extensively by the sheriff and district attorney, and were the subject of a grand jury investigation detailed in last year's grand jury report.


The law enforcement investigation – which has included hundreds of pages of documents – has focused on Mosser.


No charges so far have been filed against Mosser, who adamantly maintains that he had nothing to do with funds disappearing from the senior center.


“I didn't take anything from the senior center,” Mosser said Wednesday.


Hopkins did not disclose a monetary amount in connection with the investigation.


However, Jim Swatts, the center's former board chair, previously told Lake County News that his staff could not account for between $150,000 and $175,000 in center funds after he took over supervision of the center in the summer of 2005.


Mosser said he and his wife, Jayne, came home around 10 a.m. to discover three or four District Attorney's Office investigators already in their mobile home, where he said they have lived for five years.


Investigators took some paperwork, a few players cards he holds with local casinos, as well as his laptop and desktop computers, Mosser said.


For the last two and a half years investigations have been going on “behind closed doors,” said Mosser, but nothing has been found.


He claimed that no investigator – either from the sheriff's office, district attorney or grand jury – has ever questioned him, yet he said he's been treated as if he were convicted of a crime.


Mosser suggested others have destroyed or thrown away records that would have shown the center's true financial situation.


“There's no money to take,” Mosser said.


Mosser suggested that he is being used as a political scapegoat by the center to cover for the true issue – dwindling funds for needed programs.


The search warrant service Wednesday caught Mosser off guard. He said he had no clue the investigation was still under way. “I figured they were pretty much done and they hadn't found anything and it was going to go away.”


To make matters worse, Code Enforcement officers were alerted to the condition of the home and property and arrived shortly thereafter.


Code Enforcement staff confirmed to Lake County News that they opened a case on the home after the District Attorney's Office investigators notified them.


Two officers visited the property and red-tagged it Wednesday afternoon for violations including open and outdoor storage, substandard structure, hazard and public nuisance vehicles. The Code Enforcement report stated that the trailer is extremely dilapidated, with problems with its electricity, roof, walls and heating, with other unsanitary conditions including sewage draining on the ground.


Mosser admitted the home was in substandard condition and said he had been planning to remodel. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday he and his wife are no longer able to live there until it's fixed.


Investigators also called Animal Care and Control to check on the condition of one of the many cats in the home, although Mosser said none of the animals were taken.


The entire situation, said Mosser, made him sick to his stomach. “I'm frustrated, I'm angry, I'm upset.”


Mosser suggested he may now hire an attorney and begin filing slander lawsuits against individuals in the community who have pointed fingers at him. He said he may even take a complaint against the grand jury to the state.


In August of 2005, Mosser left his position as executive director at the senior center. During his tenure Mosser failed to pay the center's federal taxes, according to Swatts, which resulted in thousands of dollars in interest and penalties from the Internal Revenue Service.


Mosser has since gone on to serve as treasurer on the board of directors for the Ukiah-based Rural Communities Housing Development Corp., which builds low-income and self-help housing in Lake and Mendocino counties. He also is a director on the board of North Coast Opportunities Inc., and reportedly formerly served as director of the San Diego Board of Realtors.


The grand jury report stated that the Lake County Sheriff's Office received a complaint about missing funds at the senior center in November 2005, which triggered the investigation. Center officials also previously told Lake County News that they submitted evidence in the case to the state Attorney General's Office.


Hopkins said his office took over the senior center investigation from the sheriff's office in March 2006.


He said he hired two part-time employees – and investigator and a prosecutor – to work on the case. The staffers were working out of an office at the senior center, collecting documents and interviewing individuals.


Hopkins said his staff needed to analyze the materials taken from Mosser's home as well as the rest of their findings before making a final determination on whether or not there is a case.


“We are mindful that this is taking a long time,” Hopkins said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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