Sunday, September 8, 2013

DA approves filing against Lemoore Lions Club embezzler in California

The Kings County District Attorney’s Office is filing charges against a woman who allegedly embezzled from the Lemoore Lions Club to support a gambling habit.

The club’s former treasurer, Angelina DeTorres, 65, is being charged with grand theft by embezzlement. Kings County Chief Deputy District Attorney Larry Crouch said the charges were approved for filing this week. DeTorres is set to appear in court on Sept. 16.

Lemoore police Cmdr. Steve Rossi said several of the club’s members filed a police report on Aug. 2 after they began to suspect DeTorres had been spending Lions Club money for purposes not related to the club.

“They became suspicious when a check that was written to a vendor bounced,” Rossi said. “The check was only for $800.”

The club members reported that the bank account should have had sufficient funds to cover that amount. Upon reviewing bank statements dating back to September 2012, they discovered numerous withdrawals and ATM charges at Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino.

Rossi said Lions Club members also suspect that proceeds from ticket presales and sponsorships for its annual Kings Brew Fest event, held on Aug. 27, had not been properly deposited.

When officers made contact with the suspect, Rossi said DeTorres admitted to spending the money, as well as having a gambling problem.

All told, Rossi said DeTorres is suspected of taking around $55,000.

Bob Casas, secretary of the Lemoore Lions Club, said he could not comment on the charges against the former treasurer because the investigation is ongoing.

Rossi said nonprofit organizations are frequently the victim of embezzlement due to members who are all too willing to trust their friends. He said a system of checks and balances, with at least one other person to oversee the accounts, is necessary to ensure the money is being properly managed.

“The best thing you can do is to have periodic, at the least, internal audits,” Rossi said.

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