[UPDATED] Rohnert Park Police Officer Charged With Embezzlement

Man served as police union’s treasurer


The Sonoma County District Attorney has charged Rohnert Park Public Safety Officer David Sittig-Wattson, 34, with one felony count of grand theft by embezzlement, according to a press release from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

Sittig-Wattson, a former treasurer for the Rohnert Park Public Safety Officers Association, the union which represents officers in labor negotiations and other matters, turned himself into the Sheriff Office on Monday after the Sheriff’s Office completed an investigation of financial practices at the union.

The alleged embezzlement, which the Sheriff’s Office investigated at the request of the union, took place over a 4-year period. The felony charge could lead to a sentence of between six months and three years of imprisonment. Sittig-Wattson was released on $5,000 bail on Monday, according to the Sheriff’s Office release.

Nonprofit paperwork filed by the police union lists Sittig-Wattson as the group’s treasurer in 2014 and 2015. More recent paperwork is not available online.

UPDATE — July 28, 10:00am: Sittig-Wattson is one of five police officers named in a lawsuit against the city of Rohnert Park by the family of Branch Wroth, a man who died in a Budget Inn in May 2017 after multiple officers attempted to arrest him.

According to a lawsuit brought by Wroth’s family, multiple officers, including Sittig-Wattson, knelt on Wroth’s back while he lay on the ground, handcuffed. Wroth was pronounced dead at the scene. Wroth’s family has argued in court that he died of “positional asphyxiation” as the result of the officer’s actions.

After reviewing the case, the Sonoma County District Attorney concluded that the officers did not use “unreasonable force” and declined to prosecute the officers involved.

“The effects of the drugs on Mr. Wroth’s system, likely combined with his physical exertion while fighting against the reasonable response from officers, induced cardiac arrest at the time he was subdued,” District Attorney Jill Ravitch wrote.

In June 2019, a jury agreed to award Wroth’s family $4 million in the case, however the settlement was overruled by another judge over concerns that the jury instructions in the first trial were unclear. A new trial is now underway.



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