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Former ArtSplash treasurer pleads guilty for embezzlement

VISTA — James Comstock plead guilty to embezzling over $200,000 from ArtSplash while serving as the volunteer treasurer for the Carlsbad nonprofit.

Comstock pled guilty to two counts of embezzlement during a hearing on April 17 at the Vista Courthouse, according to deputy district attorney Bill Mitchell, who is prosecuting the case.

The maximum sentence for both counts is 5 years and 8 months in custody, but a deal has been negotiated for Comstock to serve 3 years on probation and up to 6 months in local custody, Mitchell said.

Rather than going to jail, Comstock may be able to serve his sentence in alternative custody like home detention.

The court will determine Comstock’s official sentence in June.

Comstock already returned all of the misappropriated funds to ArtSplash before the case began, according to Mitchell.

The Carlsbad Police Department began investigating Comstock in January 2013 based on a tip from a board member of the nonprofit that was submitted to Mayor Matt Hall.

ArtSplash raises funds for arts education in North County schools with a two-day arts fair. During the 2012-13 school year, the nonprofit donated over $42,000 to school programs for visual and performing arts.

Comstock had been the volunteer treasurer for ArtSplash since 2003.

He turned himself in too Carlsbad Police on Dec. 18 and posted $120,000 bail shortly after his arrest.

Comstock was also elected as the treasurer for the city of Carlsbad in November 2010, but resigned in January 2013.

There was no suspected mismanagement of city funds.

He worked as a certified public accountant for Comstock and Associates and as the chief financial operator and co-partner for Port Brewing Company/Lost Abbey in San Marcos and Latitude 33° Brewing Company in Vista.

Comstock was removed from his positions at Port Brewing Company/Lost Abbey in December.

Latitude 33° Brewing Company has not responded to requests for comment. Comstock’s son, Nick Comstock, is the brewer’s assistant at the company.