Case # 15CF0347
Date: February 24, 2015
FORMER OFFICE MANAGER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR EMBEZZLING MONEY FROM CATHOLIC SCHOOL FUNDRAISING PROGRAM
SANTA ANA – A former office manager is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow for embezzling money from a Catholic school’s fundraising program. Adela Maria Tapia, 40, Tustin, is charged with two felony counts of grand theft by embezzlement, 13 felony counts of money laundering with sentencing enhancement allegations for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, and property loss of over $200,000. If convicted, Tapia faces a maximum sentence of 14 years and four months in state prison. The People will request that she be held on over $438,000 bail and must prove that the money comes from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond at her arraignment tomorrow, Feb. 25, 2015, at 10:00 a.m., in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
In September 2006, Tapia was hired as the scrip card coordinator at the Holy Family Cathedral School (HFCS) in Orange. The scrip card program is utilized by HFCS to raise funds for the operating costs of the school by selling scrip cards, which act similarly to gift cards, to school families or parishioners at face value. HFCS purchases scrip cards at a discount and their profit is based on the difference between the purchase value and sale value of the scrip cards sold. The scrip card program raises approximately $200,000 for the school each year.
Between September 2006 and September 2011, the defendant is accused of taking cash payments from school families that purchased scrip cards and depositing the money into her own personal bank account.
The defendant is accused of taking scrip cards, kept in a safe at HFCS, and selling them to her family members, one of whom is an ordained deacon at another parish in the Catholic Diocese of Orange. Tapia is accused of keeping the money from the scrip cards sold to her family members for her own personal use. Tapia is accused of using the money she received from selling scrip cards to purchase luxury clothing and goods from department stores and private school tuition.
In 2011, the defendant was transferred to an office manager position. A new employee training to be the scrip card coordinator asked the principal of HFCS for access to the safe containing the scrip cards. After opening the safe, the principal found $120,000 of scrip cards missing and reported the theft to the Orange Police Department, who investigated this case
Senior Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.