MONTEREY (CBS SF) — A judge on Wednesday sentenced the founder and director of a Monterey nonprofit that assisted children with special needs, to four years in prison for tax evasion, embezzlement, submitting false invoices and theft by false pretenses, prosecutors said.
Santa Cruz resident Lolita Garcia, 59, formed Central Coast Kids & Families in 2008 to provide services like in-home respite to families of children with special needs. Since then, she has sat as the executive director and president of the nonprofit and used it to embezzle more than $700,000, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.READ MORE: President Biden Announces Bipartisan Deal On $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
The organization used money from the nonprofit San Andreas Regional Center (SARC) for respite services as well as funding from five different school districts in Monterey County and the Monterey County Office of Education to provide in-school aides for children.
An investigation revealed that Garcia routinely overbilled the school districts and SARC for hours that Central Coast Kids & Families did not actually work.
Hundreds of invoices and timesheets from the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years found that Garcia overbilled her funding sources for a total of $192,823.READ MORE: California Reopens: Ferry Service Resumes To Oracle Park In Time For Giants / A's Bay Bridge Series
Garcia also embezzled $675,646 from her nonprofit and used that money to buy a Porsche Carrera, Maserati Ghibli, Land Rover Range Rover, Toyota Tundra, Jeep Wrangler, a diamond Rolex watch, high-end fashion handbags, among a number of other personal luxuries. She failed to report the amounts embezzled for personal expenditures on her tax returns, prosecutors said.
When Garcia became aware of the investigation, she formed a for-profit limited liability company to do business from that entity without dissolving the nonprofit or accounting for assets and money that was required to be used for the nonprofit.
When she was arrested, the court ordered the seizure of those luxury purchases as well as her personal and investment accounts, property and Central Coast Kids & Families business accounts.
Her assets are currently held by a court-appointed receiver and will be liquidated to pay for Garcia’s restitution obligations, according to the District Attorney’s Office.MORE NEWS: Woman's Body Dumped At San Jose Newby Landfill; Police Seek Public's Help In Case
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