Ex-symphony head charged with embezzlement

Hundreds of thousands of dollars missing from nonprofit's bank accounts

The former executive director of the Peninsula Symphony Association has been accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the decades-old Los Altos community orchestra.

Stephen Jay Carlton, a 45-year-old Novato resident, is facing multiple felony charges, including grand theft, embezzlement, forgery, identity theft and tax evasion. He faces up to 18 years in prison if he is convicted. He was arrested late last week.

Carlton came under suspicion in September 2013 after one of the association's board members was alerted that the 65-year-old nonprofit's funds were unusually low, according to a press release issued by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Carlton resigned shortly after board members brought the issue to the Los Altos Police Department, the press release said. One of the symphony's endowments dropped from $227,000 to $375; another was depleted by nearly $200,000 -- going from $195,000 to $395.

In a subsequent investigation, it was shown that Carlton had used association checks to pay himself, the press release details. He is accused of forging the signatures of two board members on a number of the checks, taking out an unauthorized $25,000 loan in the association's name and using the money to pay down personal debts.


Posted by Leopard Man, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 5, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Wow. He sure did orchestrate a lot of crimes.

Posted by JJOstinato, a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2014 at 5:26 pm

At least they weren't violint crimes.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 5, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I wonder if he'll get time off for good conduct.

Posted by CA, a resident of Stanford
on Mar 5, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Low-class(ical) criminal... Siphoning when he should have been symphonying.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Yet another non-profit with weak financial controls.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 5, 2014 at 9:35 pm

I hope he wasn't in concert with others.

Posted by Leopard Man, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 6, 2014 at 5:38 am

I hope he watches his back. Prison shanks are known to B sharp.

Posted by Sylvia, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2014 at 11:15 am

Wow! This string of puns is a breath of fresh air from the usual sour comments criticizing everything in Palo Alto that I see on Town Square. Love 'em!

Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 6, 2014 at 11:39 am

Too bad this story had to enter on a sad note.

Posted by GM Mama, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 6, 2014 at 11:45 am

Too bad his career is ending on such a minor key.

Posted by Branson, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 6, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Way too often, people are too trusting. When big money's involved, there have to be frequent audits by an outside party. Carlton will have to face the music. Or is it pay the piper?

Posted by Jay, a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I think he should have to "face the music"; March to the Scaffold from Symphonie Fantastíque, to be specific. Unfortunately, there is not enough funding left to pay the orchestra.

What is the scale for pipers? The Berlioz low brass parts wouldn't sound right being played on pipes, though. :-/

Posted by Rockstar Games, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Mar 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Grand theft alto.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2014 at 3:38 pm

He played them like a violin..or is it a fiddle?

Posted by GM Mama, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm

He should be drummed out of the symphony forever.

Posted by Just AWFUL!!!!, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 6, 2014 at 4:10 pm

These are truly awful puns.

More, please....


Posted by lindaloo, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 6, 2014 at 4:47 pm

He must B-flat broke

Posted by Leather Man, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 6, 2014 at 5:02 pm

How's he gonna drum up lawyer fees? He'll probably need to piccolo cost attorney.

Posted by ...piccolo cost attorney. , a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 6, 2014 at 7:49 pm

We have a winner!

Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 6, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Clearly, this thread has struck a chord with the readers.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Apparently, fiddling around with the funds wasn't his forte. Wait until the jury hears his attorney's glockenspiel! Going to jail with all of this fanfare is enough to put him in a fugue state and will no doubt result in a real etude adjustment. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Guy Who Goes Too Far, Ruining It For Everyone, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Mar 7, 2014 at 5:08 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by marche, a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2014 at 10:51 am

Oboe-y. Tuba'd. Bassoon he'll be out. No symphony from me. A cymbal of all that can go wrong.

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