|For Immediate Release
Case # 08CF2767
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT CHARGED WITH STEALING $450,000 FROM YOUTH CRISIS SHELTER AND SPENDING MONEY ON LUXURY PERSONAL ITEMS
SANTA ANA – A former executive assistant at a youth crisis shelter was arrested and charged today with stealing approximately $450,000 from the shelter and spending it on a lavish personal lifestyle. Lydia Fitzgerald, 47, Long Beach, is charged with 23 counts of forging checks, 16 counts of altering the books and records of her employer, three counts of computer access and fraud, one count of grand theft, one count of the fraudulent use of an access card, and one count of commercial burglary, with an excessive taking enhancement for the theft of more than $150,000. She faces a maximum of 33 years and eight months in prison if convicted. Fitzgerald was arrested today and is being held on $450,000 bail. She must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before being able to post bond. Fitzgerald is expected to be arraigned Friday, Sep. 26, 2008, at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. The time and Department are to be determined.
Between April 2004 and December 2007, Fitzgerald is accused of stealing approximately $450,000 from the Casa Youth Shelter in Los Alamitos, a charitable organization that provides temporary shelter and counseling for runaways and youth in crisis. While employed as an executive assistant, Fitzgerald is accused of forging numerous checks to herself and obtaining a credit card on a pre-existing company account in her own name without authorization from the shelter. She is accused of using the stolen money and credit cards on personal expenses for herself and her family including remodeling their home and purchasing vacations, meals, clothes, a car, a boat, and numerous other luxury items. Fitzgerald is accused of attempting to conceal her theft by altering the books and records to show untrue payees or payment amounts. When the bank account used for payroll began to deplete from Fitzgerald’s theft, she is accused of opening a line of credit in the shelter’s name and using the line of credit to transfer money into the payroll account.
The Director at Casa Youth Shelter discovered the theft after discrepancies in their accounts were called to her attention by the bank.
The Los Alamitos Police Department investigated this case. Deputy District Attorney Brian G. Mulherin of the Major Frauds Unit, White Collar Crime Team is prosecuting this case.