Can’t Tell the Embezzlers Without a Program

     SAN DIEGO (CN) – Unknown to one another, two employees embezzled $565,500 at the same time from a La Jolla community center, and one of them spent $1,820 of it on sushi, federal prosecutors say.
     The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Thursday filed plea agreements from Nancy Johnson, former CFO of the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, and its accounts payable clerk Tamara Azizov. Both pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing a false tax return.
     Prosecutors said the women swiped the money in “entirely separate schemes.”
     Johnson, who oversaw the community center’s $13 million annual budget as CFO from 1991 to April 2014, swiped $412,289.64, which she spent on vacations in Maui and the Bahamas, fancy shoes and other fun stuff, the U.S. attorney said in a statement.
     While she was embezzling money for all this, “she claimed that the JCC could not afford the numerous programs and activities offered to the community,” prosecutors said. “In fact, Johnson ordered JCC department heads to reduce expenses to make up for the hundreds of thousands of dollars she was siphoning off from the JCC coffers.” The center had to lay off employees to balance its budget.
     Meanwhile, Azizov, unknown to Johnson, swiped $154,192.74, which she spent on fancy clothes, lingerie, sunglasses, and “$1,820 for sushi,” the U.S. attorney said.
     Azizov was accounts payable clerk from 1989 until May 2014.
     Both women continued their thefts until they left their jobs.
     Johnson, 59, of Escondido, is due back in court on Aug. 28.
     Azizov, 62, of San Diego, must return on Sept. 11.
     Both will be ordered to pay restitution. They face up to 20 years for wire fraud and 3 years for tax fraud, plus $250,000 in fines for each count.

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