Sentencing delayed for Joe Medrano

By Tamara Steiner

The three-year long felony embezzlement saga for former insurance broker and one-time city councilman Joe Medrano should have come to an end at his sentence hearing on Dec. 12. Instead, it has been postponed until Dec. 31.

A tardy defense attorney left the exasperated judge less than half an hour to hear arguments from prosecutor Sherron Lee and defense attorney Kenneth Moyal. Additionally, there were supporting documents missing from Medrano’s written statement.

Medrano was convicted on Oct. 11 of embezzling $159,630 from a former client.

After an eight-day trial, the jury returned the verdict in less than three hours.

San Mateo County prosecutor Sherron Lee is asking for the maximum sentence of four years – three for embezzlement and an additional one year because the amount was “excessive.” She said the crime was “sophisticated and well-planned” and that Medrano has not taken any steps to compensate the victim.

In 2009 iPass Corporation sent two separate checks for $79,815 each to Medrano to pay the company’s Workers Compensation premiums. Instead of forwarding the money to Travelers Insurance, Medrano kept it in lieu of fees and commissions he said the company owed him for work he did on their Directors and Officers Liability Insurance earlier in the year.

After discovering inconsistencies in Medrano’s proposal, however, iPass placed the D&O insurance with another company and fired Medrano.

It was later that iPass sent the Workers Compensation premiums to Medrano who kept the money and allowed iPass’ Workers Compensation policy to lapse. Because Travelers was the underwriter, they covered iPass’ loss when they discovered the theft. “We were forced to play the role of chump,” said David DeMordaunt, an attorney for Travelers who spoke at the sentencing. “We were left holding the bag,” He said Medrano has not shown any contrition or willingness to pay restitution. Restitution was clearly a big issue for the judge, who twice asked the defense if Medrano intended to pay back the money. Moyal said Medrano plans to make restitution, but did not offer any specifics.

The judge said he was “troubled” by Medrano’s written statement.

“He just doesn’t seem to get it,” he said. “The problem is he still feels justified in taking the money. He presents himself as an innocent victim.”

The defense is asking for probation, arguing that Medrano has been punished enough. He was forced to step down as a city councilman and vice-mayor after his conviction and his insurance license was revoked by the Department of Insurance.

“He’s lost his very profitable business, his political career is over, and his reputation is tarnished,” said Moyal. “He’s on Google forever.”

The judge said he would review the missing documents before imposing final sentence on Dec. 31, but cautioned Medrano to “put his affairs in order be prepared to surrender that day.”