Woman admits embezzling $435,000 from nonprofit shelter

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Personal Injury News

Article Date: 12/18/2009 | Resource: MLG

Woman admits embezzling $435,000 from nonprofit shelter

A former employee of a youth crisis shelter pleaded guilty today to charges related to the embezzling of more than $435,000 from the nonprofit and using the money for her personal needs, including buying vacations and remodeling her home, prosecutors said.

Lydia Kathleen Fitzgerald, 48, formerly of Los Alamitos, pleaded guilty to the court to 49 felonies, and was ordered to pay more than $390,000 in restitution to Casa Youth Shelter in Los Alamitos – which provides temporary shelter and counseling for runaways and other youths, prosecutors said. She also was ordered to pay $93,000 in restitution to the state of California Franchise Tax Board.

She is expected to get four years in prison at her sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 22.

Fitzgerald worked as an executive assistant at the shelter from April 2004 to December 2007, prosecutors said.

She forged checks to herself and used a company credit card to spend lavishly on herself and her family, including purchasing meals, clothes, a car, a boat and vacations, prosecutors said. She also used the funds to remodel her home.

Fitzgerald attempted to hide the theft by altering the shelter’s books and records to show untrue payees or payment amounts, prosecutors said.

When the bank account used for payroll began to deplete because of Fitzgerald’s theft, she opened a line of credit in the shelter’s name and used it to transfer money into the payroll account.

She put $45,000 in stolen money back in the shelter’s accounts to attempt to hide her theft, prosecutors said.

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Jeffrey Marquart