Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud for Embezzling Over $700,000 from Community Health Charities
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that PATRICIA BLANCHARD, age 67, formerly of New Orleans, pled guilty yesterday to mail fraud for her role in embezzling approximately $715,000 from Community Health Charities of Louisiana and Mississippi (“CHC”).
According to court documents, BLANCHARD’S husband, G.B., was hired in 2000 to be the Executive Director and President of CHC, a not-for-profit charitable organization that raised, collected, and distributed funds to local charities through workplace giving campaigns. CHC received pledges from federal civilian, postal, and military donors to support eligible non-profit organizations. In about 2005, he arranged for BLANCHARD to be hired as CHC’s bookkeeper. As bookkeeper, BLANCHARD was responsible for overseeing CHC’s finances and accounts, including reconciling accounts payable and receivables.
Between 2006 and November 2011, BLANCHARD embezzled approximately $715,000 from CHC in three ways. First, she mailed checks drawn on CHC’s accounts to pay her own credit card bills. To disguise her behavior and make the checks look legitimate, BLANCHARD added fictitious notes on the checks, such as “Cancer Research Institute,” “AIDS Research Foundation,” “MARCH OF DIMES,” “NO AIDS/TASK FORCE,” “American Heart Assoc.,” and “AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY.” Second, BLANCHARD obtained cash advances on her Shell gas card without authorization and reimbursed herself from CHC’s accounts, making it look like the reimbursement were for legitimate travel and gas expenses. Third, BLANCHARD paid for personal expenditures and items directly from CHC’s bank accounts without authorization.
BLANCHARD faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years in prison, three years of supervised release after any term of imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. As part of her plea, BLANCHARD also agreed to repay CHC for the amount she stole, $715,000. U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo set sentencing on June 25, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg is in charge of the prosecution.