Former SAL director arrested on grand theft charges

in Crime

Barbara Bonilla, 55, the former longtime director of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Activities League (SAL), was arrested Friday on suspicion of seven counts of grand theft from SAL. 

In February, the South San Francisco resident was put on leave after SAL’s bookkeeper noticed financial discrepancies the previous month, prompting a preliminary internal review revealing evidence of possible fraudulent activity, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. 

Given SAL is a nonprofit connected to the Sheriff’s Office, the California State Attorney General’s Office was summoned to investigate, leading to the determination that about $25,000 was missing. 

Bonilla resigned as SAL’s executive director in May. On Friday, she was booked into San Mateo County Jail and bail was set at $70,000, the sheriff’s office said. 

In a statement, Sheriff Carlos Bolanos said SAL and its staff are “shocked and saddened to learn of the allegations.” 

“We are committed to providing service to our community and building positive relationships with our youth,” Sheriff Bolanos said. “We will continue to move forward with SAL for the impactful work the program does in our community.”  

SAL formed in 1997 and provides programs that serve over 11,000 youth countywide. The nonprofit was founded by former Sheriff Don Horsley with the aim of building relationships between law enforcement and youth and as a crime prevention strategy. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Adam Alberti, the publisher of Climate Magazine, has been a member of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Activities League Board of Directors since February 2020.