The investigation into possible financial crimes at the Palo Alto Children's Theatre is continuing with no word of when it may be concluded, Police Chief Lynne Johnson said Monday.
The investigation had been underway for several months, but surfaced Jan. 24 when the theater was abruptly closed and four of its staff placed on administrative leave. Police investigators searched the theater, homes of staff members and seven storage units at a public-storage yard in East Palo Alto.
The theater was partially reopened four days later, in part using other city-theater staff so the play, "The Giver," could be performed the following weekend. One of the staff members placed on administrative leave, Assistant Director Michael Litfin, who had been under treatment for cancer, died Friday evening, the night the play opened. The precise cause of death has not been disclosed.
Longtime Children's Theatre Director Pat Briggs remains on suspension along with the two other staff members.
"I understand that this investigation is extremely sensitive and emotional," Johnson wrote in a letter to the community published on Palo Alto Online and in the Weekly's Feb. 13 print edition.
"The Children's Theatre is a long-standing and valued institution in our community. The beloved staff have provided years of incredible service to the youth in Palo Alto. This investigation will not overshadow those achievements."
Johnson said "the crimes we are investigating are very serious and do not involve misappropriation of small amounts of money or office supplies, but potentially tens of thousands of dollars."
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