A Sacramento woman was arrested and charged with 68 felonies for defrauding the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund, District Attorney George Gascón announced Thursday.
Lydia George, 36, is alleged to have used her job as a case worker to submit fraudulent applications for emergency housing aid to the venerable charity, Gascón said. In November 2011, The City's Human Services Agency noticed a discrepancy in an application she submitted that spurred an investigation into a year and a half worth of applications George had reportedly filed.
Investigators for the HSA found 67 applications from George that were fraudulent, Gascón said. Based on the fraudulent applications, the charity paid out 62 checks totaling $121,800 to numerous people including one check for George.
“This person betrayed her position of trust and stole from a worthy charity,” Gascón said. “Stealing from an organization that helps the most vulnerable is completely shameful.”
The arrest is the result of a thorough investigation by the HSA investigations unit, Gascón said.
Trent Rhorer, the executive director of the HSA, said the case was disheartening because the person accused of stealing the funds was hired to help those in need. The Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund was established in 1986 to help Bay Area families in crisis to pay for housing and emergency needs.
“Fortunately, we were able to restore the stolen finds to ensure that people's generous contributions to the Season of Sharing Fund will be spent on their intended purposes,” Rhorer said.
Jennifer Kirschenbaum, executive director of the fund, echoed Rhorer's words.
“We are pleased San Francisco's Human Service Agency has repaid this amount in full to ensure the neediest in our community will get the assistance they need,” she said.
George is charged with 68 felony counts, including grand theft and attempted grant theft and 66 counts of forgery, and additional enhancement allegations, Gascón said.