Friday, February 27, 2015

Tustin woman charged in private-school embezzlement

A former officer manager in Orange has been charged with embezzling thousands of dollars from a Catholic school fundraising program and using the cash for designer clothes and private school tuition.

Adela Maria Tapia, 40, of Tustin was charged Monday with 15 felony counts, including grand theft and money laundering, authorities said. Tapia also faces sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000 and property loss of over $200,000.

Between 2006 and 2011, Tapia, a former office manager at the Holy Family Cathedral School in Orange, is accused of taking cash payments from families for a school fundraising gift card program and then depositing the money in her personal bank account, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Tapia also is accused of selling fundraising gift cards to her family members, one of whom is a Catholic church deacon, and then using the money to buy luxury items and private school tuition, prosecutors said.

Authorities launched an investigation in 2011 after the school’s principal found gift cards worth $120,000 were missing.

If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

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