Philly archdiocese ex-financial officer to face charges in $900,000 theft

Anita Guzzardi Courtesy Philiadelphia Police Dept CNA US Catholic News 3 14 12 Ms. Anita Guzzardi. Photo courtesy of the Philiadelphia Police Dept.

The former chief financial officer of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has turned herself in to the Philadelphia district attorney to face several charges related to the theft of almost one million dollars from the archdiocese.

The archdiocese said it has worked closely with the D.A. during the investigation of the alleged crime.

Guzzardi, 42, allegedly stole the money from the archdiocese from 2005 until 2011 while in lower level positions. The Philadelphia district attorney’s office said she used 184 archdiocesan checks to pay her American Express bills. She also was found to have paid her personal Chase credit card with archdiocesan funds, using 146 checks for that account.

She was named chief financial officer on July 1, 2011. On July 13, the district attorney’s office alerted the archdiocese to accounting irregularities reported by a credit card company. She was placed on leave July 14 and fired on July 22 after the archdiocese’s preliminary forensic accounting investigation, the archdiocese said.

The thefts totaled over $900,000.

Guzzardi faces charges of theft, forgery, unlawful use of a computer and other crimes. She had worked with the archdiocese since 1989.

Insurance will cover most of the costs for the embezzled funds and some of the fees for the archdiocese’s internal investigation. The district attorney’s Cyber and Economic Crimes Unit has recovered $150,000 from Guzzardi, which will be returned to the archdiocese.

The money came from the archdiocese’s general fund, not its annual Catholic Charities appeal or its “Heritage of Faith – Vision of Hope” capital campaign.

“The theft had no effect on the work of the Blue Ribbon Commission or the decision to close or regionalize any school,” the archdiocese said March 13, referring to the commission that recently decided to close or merge dozens of Philadelphia Catholic schools.

In February Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia announced that internal financial controls will be strengthened in response to the theft.

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