Ed Torres


A judge on Monday upheld more than a dozen fraud-related charges filed against a retired supervising Santa Barbara County probation officer accused of stealing money from his union over a decade. 

Judge Von Deroian made the ruling after a preliminary hearing for Manuel “Ed” Torres, 65, who is accused of stealing more than $600,000 from the Santa Barbara County Probation Peace Officers Association from 2009 to 2019, according to Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota.

Torres was arrested in July 29, 2020 following a yearlong investigation and was charged with 15 counts, including 11 charges of tax evasion and five enhancements, including for a white collar crime because the alleged proceeds exceeded $100,000.

Torres pleaded not guilty to all charges on Aug. 3, 2020.

Monday's hearing was held to determine if there was sufficient probable cause to uphold the charges. The case now proceeds to a trial date, which has yet to be determined.

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Michael Scott, Torres' attorney, did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday. 

The case against Torres began in July 2019 after County Chief Probation Officer Tanja Heitman alerted District Attorney Joyce Dudley.

During the time span of his alleged embezzlement, Torres cut several checks totaling more than $635,000 by forging a co-signer's signature, which he deposited into his personal account, according to a July 24, 2020, declaration by District Attorney's Office investigator Chris Clement.

Torres served as association president for more than 20 years and was a probation officer until his retirement on July 12, 2019, according to Clement. He was also a high school girls basketball coach at St. Joseph High School and Orcutt Academy.

An arraignment on information hearing is scheduled for Oct. 22 in Department 11 at Superior Court of Santa Barbara.