Youth Shelter Embezzler Pleads Guilty, Must Pay Back More Than $400K

"'Tis the Season to Bone Nonprofits, Fa La La La La, La La La La," which dealt with a spate of inside thefts from Orange County charities lately, included the case of 48-year-old Lydia Kathleen Fitzgerald, the former Casa Youth Shelter executive assistant accused of stealing nearly $450,000 over a three-year period from the Los Alamitos group that provides temporary shelter and counseling for runaways and youth in crisis.

Fitzgerald, who formerly lived in Los Alamitos, pleaded guilty today to one felony count each of grand theft, fraudulently using an access card, second-degree commercial burglary, and willfully failing to file a tax return, 23 felony counts of forgery, 16 felony counts of falsifying a book of records, three felony counts computer access fraud, and three felony counts of filing false tax returns. 

From April 2004 and November 2007, Fitzgerald forged numerous checks to herself and charged personal expenses for herself and her family on a company credit card.

She used the money to remodel her home and purchase vacations, meals, clothes, a car, a boat, and numerous other luxury items, according to prosecutors.

When the shelter's bank account began to deplete due to the thefts, Fitzgerald allegedly opened a line of credit in Casa Youth's name to make payroll.

She was ordered today to make something else: restitution--to the tune of $390,000 to the shelter and more than $93,000 to the State of California Franchise Tax Board.

Fitzgerald is expected to get four years in prison at her Jan. 22, 2010, sentencing in Santa Ana.


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