Saturday, January 23, 2016

Tustin woman admits to ripping off Catholic school for more than $400,000 in California

A Tustin woman admitted Wednesday to embezzling more than $400,000 in fund-raising money from a Catholic school.
Adela Maria Tapia, 40, pleaded guilty to 13 felony counts of money laundering with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime and property loss of more than $200,000, according to an Orange County District Attorney’s office statement.
Beginning in September 2006, Tapia worked at Holy Family Cathedral School coordinating the campuses “scrip card” program. Similar to gift cards, the scrip cards were sold to school families and parishioners to raise approximately $200,000 annually for the campuses operating funds.
Prosecutors contend that Tapia took cash payments for the scrip cards and put the money in a personal bank account. They also allege she took the scrips cards themselves and sold them to family members.
Authorities believe that Tapia spent the money on luxury clothing and goods, as well as private school tuition.
The embezzlement was discovered after a new employee took over for Tapia when she was moved into an office manager position. Upon opening a safe where the scrip cards were supposed to be held, the school principal found $120,000 worth of the cards missing.
Despite the objections of prosecutors, Tapia will avoid state prison if she completes one year in jail and five years of formal probation. She is also required to pay more than $438,000 worth of restitution.

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