CHP mechanic pleads no contest to embezzlement 

A mechanic who embezzled $17,700 from the California Highway Patrol will serve no more than six months in a San Mateo County jail after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors Wednesday.

As part of the no-contest plea deal, 46-year-old Lester Frank Gutierrez of Daly City admitted to improperly billing CHP for parts and labor that were never provided, San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said Thursday.

Prosecutors said the he embezzled $17,700. Some of the parts Gutierrez had purchased could not be used on CHP cars, prosecutors said, while at least $1,700 worth were reportedly taken for his own use.

The improper billing spanned 13 months ending in September. Gutierrez was arrested May 23.

If he had gone to trial, Gutierrez would have faced a maximum of four years in prison. Gutierrez's attorney, Tony Brass, has said his client fully cooperated with the investigation, was "a beloved employee" of the CHP, and previously had no criminal record.

"A lot of people at CHP would say he went above and beyond a call of duty," Brass said.

Gutierrez, who is out of custody after posting $75,000 bail, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 10.

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