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November 10, 2008
Nonprofit Exec Charged with Felonies

The former executive director of a nonprofit organization that aids the poor has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the group, inflating her salary, and denying employees pension benefits, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett recently announced.

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The defendant served as executive director of the Voluntary Action Center in Rochester between 1987 and March 2007. The organization assists low income residents through donations of toys, unwanted furniture, clothing, and medical equipment. The defendant controlled paying the organization's bills and writing payroll and benefits checks. By 2001, her salary had ballooned to $78,000, a large amount for a small nonprofit agency, and due to suspicions over the size of her salary, the United Way, an important contributor, cut funding in half, from $40,481 in 2000 to only $20,240 in 2001.

The defendant responded by withdrawing from the United Way, and as a result, threw the organization's finances into serious turmoil. Despite those financial problems, however, the defendant ensured that the organization contributed to her pension plan, and in order to keep up payments, allegedly excluded two of her employees from the plan by telling them they were not eligible. She is charged with 11 felonies, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

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