Wednesday, April 3, 2013

California Woman Pleads Not Guilty To Charges She Embezzled More Than $200K From Seminary

Ex-director of St. Patrick's Seminary pleads not guilty to embezzlement, DA says

REDWOOD CITY -- A Hayward woman who was the finance head of a Peninsula seminary when she allegedly took over $200,000 and a donated Mercedes from the school has pleaded not guilty to embezzlement, a prosecutor said Monday.

Jennifer Margret Morris, who worked at St. Patrick's Seminary & University in Menlo Park, entered her plea Friday in San Mateo County Superior Court, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
The 57-year-old former finance director, who is out of jail after posting a $200,000 bond, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Prosecutors say Morris reimbursed herself with school money for over $166,000 in unauthorized personal purchases, overpaid herself by $36,000 in 2011-12 and stole a 1982 Mercedes-Benz that had been donated to the school.

The thefts, which happened from 2006-2012, were discovered when St. Patrick's learned Morris had been using her personal credit card to make work purchases and then was reimbursing herself, according to prosecutors. Even though she had a work-issued credit card, she made the purchases with her personal one in order to collect airline miles, Morris allegedly told her employers.
Prosecutors have also charged Morris' secretary, 44-year-old Evelyn D. Vallacqua, with taking part in the scam. Vallacqua allegedly helped issue many of the improper reimbursement checks to Morris and received unauthorized severance payments. She faces three counts of felony embezzlement and is due to be arraigned in San Mateo County Superior Court on April 30, Wagstaffe said.

In addition to registering the donated Mercedes in her name, Morris also charged Department of Motor Vehicle and maintenance costs to the school, prosecutors say. Morris faces four felony counts of embezzlement, Wagstaffe said.

From the San Jose Mercury News

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