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Man charged with embezzling more than $180,000 from SoMa club pleads not guilty

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A South of Market club employee charged with allegedly embezzling or stealing $188,349 has pleaded not guilty, according to court filings.

Richard Whitaker, 45, appeared in San Francisco Superior Court to be arraigned on Monday and pleaded not guilty to charges of embezzling funds from his employer, the Temple Club.

Whitaker, who denied all the allegations, posted $90,000 bail and has been released from custody.

Whitaker was specifically charged with three felony counts of grand theft, forgery and writing fictitious checks. Additionally, it is alleged he stole or destroyed property worth at least $65,000 and committed fraud by embezzling $100,000.

A representative from the club, located at 540 Howard St., did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

According to the complaint, San Francisco police began their investigation into Whitaker in April after the owner of the club filed a report.

The owner became aware of wrongdoing first in 2013 when he was the subject of an Internal Revenue Service audit. When he looked at his bank statements, he found there were unauthorized payments to Whitaker.

Whitaker, who reportedly confessed when confronted by management, is accused of stealing checks from the business office and then cashing falsely signed checks he made out to himself.

He was hired part time by the nightclub as a promoter in 2008.

According to transcripts of an interview with the general manager, Whitaker said he took the money because “he was not making enough money and needed money for his girlfiend, rent, and groceries.”

He is also reportedly “sorry for what he did.”

Whitaker is set to appear next for a pretrial hearing Aug. 29.

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