|For Immediate Release
Case # 08NF3575
November 5, 2008
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
FORMER FINANCE DIRECTOR OF NONPROFIT HELPING SENIORS ARRESTED AND CHARGED FOR STEALING $900,000
FULLERTON – The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) arrested and charged a former finance director of a non-profit corporation, which contracts to provide services to senior citizens, for stealing more than $900,000 from the corporation by writing checks to her personal accounts. Medelia Chiong Fernan, 50, Fountain Valley, was charged with 242 felony counts of grand theft by embezzlement and sentencing enhancements that the theft exceeded $500,000 and $150,000. If convicted on all counts, Fernan faces 170 years in state prison.
Fernan was arrested this morning by OCDA Investigators at her Huntington Beach residence. Authorities acted because of a concern that Fernan might be attempting to flee the country. She is accused of carrying in her purse $20,000 in hundred dollar bills at the time of the arrest and had recently sold her home. She is currently being held on $250,000 bail and will have to prove that the money is from legitimate sources before she may post bail. The People will be requesting the bail be increased to $900,000. The defendant is expected to be arraigned at a later date and time at the North Justice Center.
Community Senior Serv is a nonprofit corporation located in Anaheim that provides numerous services to senior citizens in Orange County, including the administration of the Meals on Wheels Program. Fernan was the organization’s finance director from 2004 to 2008. Between May 2005 and July 2008, Fernan is accused of writing 242 corporate checks to various banks and paying personal credit card accounts with company funds. She is also accused of altering the accounting records to falsely reflect that the checks were paid to common vendors by the non-profit corporation.
The alleged thefts were discovered by a former president of Community Senior Serv who was approached by a security agent of a credit card issuer who questioned the large number of corporate checks deposited into Fernan’s account. A subsequent audit by the non-profit corporation turned up the balance of the loss.
The board and management of the non-profit group have been cooperative in this matter, and have worked with the OCDA investigators and the Anaheim Police Department in the investigation.