Updated: ArtSplash treasurer arrested for grand theft

CARLSBAD — James Comstock, the treasurer for ArtSplash and former Carlsbad treasurer, was arrested Wednesday morning for allegations of grand theft and misappropriation of funds.

Comstock, 53, has served as the volunteer treasurer for the nonprofit ArtSplash since 2003. He was elected treasurer for the city of Carlsbad in Nov. 2010, but resigned in January before the end of his four-year term.

The Carlsbad Police began an investigation on Jan. 31 into accounting discrepancies of ArtSplash, which hosts an annual two-day community art event in Carlsbad, according to a press release from the Carlsbad Police.

The investigation does not involve Comstock’s management of funds for the city of Carlsbad.

An ArtSplash board member noticed inconsistencies with the organization’s funds and brought it to the attention of Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall. These concerns were passed onto the City Attorney who then notified Carlsbad Police.

Investigators searched all financial records involving Comstock’s Bank of America accounts from Jan. 9, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2013.

Comstock turned himself in this morning at the Carlsbad Police Station after the District Attorney’s office reviewed the information gathered by the Carlsbad Police.

He was booked into the Vista Detention Facility and is being held on $120,000 bail.

City finance director Chuck McBride stated that an independent audit conducted after Comstock’s resignation revealed that everything was accounted for with city finances.

Though he noted that the city has thorough checks and balances in place to ensure that one person cannot mismanage funds, McBride said the audit was a necessary precaution.

“When an elected treasurer walks out the door before term is over, we just make sure nothing is amiss,” he said.

McBride explained that while working as city treasurer, Comstock was primarily responsible for managing the city’s investment portfolio, which is currently worth over $600 million.

After Comstock’s resignation, Craig Lindholm was selected to serve as interim city treasurer until the 2014 election.

The city was a major ArtSplash donor, and in recent years donated a little over $28,000 in cash and $5,000 in in-kind services to the nonprofit, according to McBride.

Comstock was an accountant for Comstock & Associates, and formerly served as a volunteer for a number of other Carlsbad foundations.

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