District Attorney George Gascón Announces Charges Against Defendant Who Defrauded the Season of Sharing Fund
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2014
Alex Bastian, (415) 553-1931
Maxwell Szabo, (415) 553-9089
SAN FRANCISCO - District Attorney George Gascón announced today that Lydia George, age 36, of Sacramento, was arrested and charged this morning with sixty-eight felonies for defrauding the Chronicle’s Season of Sharing Fund.
“This person betrayed her position of trust and stole from a worthy charity,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Stealing from an organization that helps the most vulnerable is completely shameful.”
George was arrested in Sacramento Thursday morning on the issued warrant. She’s alleged to have used her position as a case worker to submit fraudulent applications for emergency housing aid to the Chronicle’s Season of Sharing Fund. In November of 2011, the San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA) noted a discrepancy in an application submitted by George and began an extensive investigation into a year and half worth of submissions made by the defendant. HSA investigators were able to identify sixty-seven fraudulent applications that George had submitted as genuine. Based on these fraudulent applications, the charity issued sixty-two checks totaling $121,800 to numerous individuals including one check to George herself.
"The Human Services Agency takes very seriously our obligation to safeguard public and private funds from fraudulent activity,” said Trent Rhorer, Executive Director of HSA. “It is especially disheartening when money intended to help the neediest San Franciscans is stolen by a person hired to help them. 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."
“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,” said Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Executive Director of the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund. “The Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund is vital to assisting Bay Area residents in crisis and it is important every dollar reaches those who really need help.”
George is charged with sixty-eight felonies, including one count of grand theft and attempted grand theft and sixty-six counts of forgery. In addition, there are enhancement allegations for excessive taking pursuant section 12022.6(a) and an aggravated white collar crime pursuant to section 186.11.
The arrest of George is the result of a thorough investigation by the San Francisco Human Services Agency Investigations Unit. John Delgado is the Assistant District Attorney prosecuting the case.