I-Team

Giants payroll manager arrested for embezzlement

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
, Chief Investigative Reporter
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A front office employee of the San Francisco Giants has been arrested on federal charges, accused of embezzling more than a million dollars from player accounts.

Court documents show that a payroll manager for the Giants made one crucial mistake that got her caught, and when the Giants found out, they took quick action by firing her and calling the feds.

Robin O'Connor worked in the Giants front office for four years. She's 41 years old, married, has two small children, and until last month was a payroll manager for the team with an annual salary of $80,000.

The affidavit from an FBI special agent says she embezzled $1,513,836.28 from the Giants' payroll between June 2010 and June 2011. The formal charges -- wire fraud and fraud in connection with a computer.

"They're felonies, so they're not the most serious felonies, but they do carry a penalty of up to five years in federal prison per count," said ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson.

The affidavit explains that O'Connor had a Giants' laptop with a payroll program, and she was allowed to work from her American Canyon home.

Here's how the scheme unraveled. Last month, O'Connor applied for a loan to buy a house in San Diego. The affidavit says she forged a letter from the Giants' HR manager, explaining large deposits into O'Connor's account "Because of her outstanding contributions ... that assisted us in accomplishing our goal of winning the 2010 World Series, she was given two additional payments of compensation in May 2011." $100,090.71 and $200,348.89.

When the lender, Bank of America, sent a copy of the letter to the Giants for confirmation, it was over.

"I'm reminded of what prosecutors often say to juries, which is, we don't catch the smart ones, the people who get convicted are people who leave enough evidence behind to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt," said Johnson.

The affidavit says O'Connor admitted forging the letter and diverting more than $600,000 from player accounts; she made a wire transfer, returning that money to the team. Then, the Giants conducted a review and found $900,000 more misdirected to O'Connor's personal accounts.

There was no answer at O'Connor's home Tuesday, but her and her husband's 2011 model-year cars were there -- a BMW sedan, an SUV (with a Giants' employee parking sticker) and a tricked out Ford F-150 pickup -- all mentioned in court documents.

The I-Team reached O'Connor through her Facebook page: "I really want to speak out about this, but I am not allowed to do this as part of an agreement that I have at the moment... I am sure that you have come to realize in your profession, all is not always as it appears... Lastly I do understand why you are doing this and have no hard feelings. Thanks for letting me know this [the I-Team report] is going to happen."

Her neighbors we spoke with, who also happened to be Giants fans, expressed shock at what happened and disappointment.

"Absolutely surprised. I wouldn't think anyone would do that to our team, the players, they definitely don't deserve that," said neighbor Michael Runas.

The Giants declined an interview, saying the U.S. attorney has asked them to help protect the integrity of the investigation. They would not say which players' accounts were involved. O'Connor has been released on a $500,000 bond. She also surrendered her passport. She's scheduled for arraignment in a month.

Dan Noyes goes into more detail from the court documents and how O'Connor's accused of embezzling money from players in a new I-Team blog.

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san francisco giants, crime, i-team, dan noyes
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