Arrest made in Kol Shofar embezzlement case

Tiburon Police this week arrested the longtime suspect in the embezzlement of $180,000 from Congregation Kol Shofar — Larry Mintzer, the synagogue’s former controller.

The Wednesday, Nov. 16 arrest immediately followed a search of Mintzer’s Novato home. In addition to filing embezzlement and forgery-related charges against the 63-year-old, Mintzer was also charged with methamphetamine possession and with bringing narcotics into a jail during his booking at Marin County Jail.

Detective Cindy Baxman, the arresting officer, declined to state what was discovered at Mintzer’s residence prompting the arrest. She speculated that a drug habit could have been a motive for his alleged embezzlement.

Mintzer posted $1,000 bail and was released. He could not be reached for comment.

Kol Shofar executives filed a police report in early August after discovering what they later called a “carefully concealed scheme” involving synagogue credit cards. They revealed the monetary loss in an Aug. 11 letter to the Conservative congregation’s 600 member families.

Mintzer, meanwhile, has his own version of those events. His lawyer, Jeff Daly, said Mintzer believes he was fired along with another Kol Shofar employee due to age discrimination and, furthermore, is owed a great deal of money for countless overtime hours worked. Mintzer is already working with the Department of Fair Employment regarding the alleged age discrimination, according to his lawyer.

Prior to his May departure, Mintzer had been the synagogue’s financial controller for roughly five years, and his behavior had never been suspect, according to congregational president Diane Zack.

In a November letter co-written with synagogue executive director Mark Levy, Zack stated that “the wheels of justice may turn very slowly, but we are confident that justice will be served. In the meantime, under direction from the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors we have reviewed and tightened our procedures to insure that this may not happen again.”

Daly, who is not a criminal attorney, declined to comment on the criminal embezzlement and drug possession charges.

“The story has not begun to be investigated. That’s the problem. There are many layers to this,” said Daly, who said he’s been representing Mintzer for about four months.

“I’m sure he’s going to plead not guilty.”

Mintzer’s arraignment will be on Friday, Dec. 2 at Marin County Superior Court.

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.