A former bookkeeper for the St. Vincent de Paul stores in Tacoma has been arrested on suspicion that she defrauded the organization out of more than $500,000.
A federal grand jury indicted Angela Toney Saucido, 44, on four counts of aggravated identity theft and seven counts of wire fraud, alleging she embezzled from the charity thrift stores from at least 2006 to July 2013.
The punishment for wire fraud is up to 20 years in prison and $250,000. Aggravated identity theft could mean an additional two years.
Saucido appeared Tuesday in U.S. District County in Arizona, where she now lives. Court records did not list an attorney for her.
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Authorities arrested Saucido on Monday in Phoenix, where she moved from the Tacoma area in 2007 and continued to do bookkeeping for St. Vincent de Paul.
Saucido allegedly transferred money from the charity’s bank accounts to her own, and made it look as if the transfers were legitimate, according to the indictment.
She is accused of also forging signatures on checks, electronically transferring money for her family and using the charity’s Home Depot credit card for her personal use, then paying for items with the charity’s money.
The identity theft charges stem from allegations Saucido used other employees’ identities to make it look as if they had gotten additional pay, when she actually put the money into bank accounts controlled by her and her husband.
“We have made a number of changes in how we operate our organization and continue to make more changes, so that something like this is not able to happen again,” said Charles Thompson, executive director of the Pierce County charity.
“It was a very sophisticated theft that someone perpetrated on us.”
The charity, which has been in Tacoma for about 90 years, operates annually on about $1.2 million, Thompson said.
One change made since the investigation is to start auditing.
“The organization was not, unfortunately, conducting audits,” Thompson said. “And that is something that’s a tough lesson to learn. While that may not have in and of itself discovered the fraudulent activity, it certainly would have been helpful.”
He said the alleged fraud depleted a building fund reserved for maintenance on the organization’s stores and equipment.
And updates are badly needed, he said. The stores have three box trucks to pick up items from donors’ homes. The newest is a 1995 model, Thompson believed.
“That (building) account 10 years ago was sitting close to $900,000,” he said. “The account as of today doesn’t exist.”
He estimates the amount taken to be higher than the $500,000 listed in the indictment, and said the charity has filed a $600,000 insurance claim in connection with the alleged fraud.
That, too, he thinks is an underestimate, but said they’re not able to trace the missing funds further.
“You can only substantiate so much,” he said.