Former Financial Professional Charged With Embezzlement From Jewish Federation and The Philly POPS!
PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Cheryl Lutts, 42, of Philadelphia, PA, was arrested and charged by Indictment on charges of wire fraud and mail fraud. These charges resulted from Lutts’ employment with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and its subsidiary, the Jewish Exponent, and later, the Encore Series, d/b/a The Philly POPS! Lutts is no longer employed by either non-profit organization.
The Indictment alleges that Lutts used her position as Director of Business Operations at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and later as Controller at the Philly POPS!, to steal money from each non-profit and use it to pay her personal credit card bills, and for a wide variety of personal expenses charged to company credit or debit cards including rideshare services, airline tickets, entertainment, travel and lodging, healthcare and exercise services, utilities, education and career services, legal services, funeral and burial services, clothing, food and alcohol, and other items from retail stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, websites, restaurants, and delivery services. The defendant is also charged with routinely using her personal credit cards and her corporate credit and debit cards to transfer company funds to various individuals who were not vendors of either non-profit using, among other things, PayPal and CashApp.
The defendant allegedly went to great lengths to disguise her fraudulent activities from her employers. According to the Indictment, Lutts provided management at both organizations with financial statements that did not include a balance sheet, or that included a balance sheet or bank reconciliation that was later determined to be false because it did not match the account balances and/or the transactions reflected on the bank statements.
The Indictment seeks forfeiture of $1,443,375.57, which represents the total amount of money Lutts allegedly embezzled from both former employers.
“This defendant allegedly swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars from not one, but two former employers” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “Non-profit organizations exist for the people and constituencies they serve, not as personal piggy banks for those entrusted with managing their funds. Our office will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute those who steal from non-profits.”
“The usual reward of nonprofit work is personal fulfillment, not financial enrichment,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Lutts, however, allegedly treated these organizations like her very own ATM, shortchanging their efforts and the community in the process. The FBI will pursue and hold accountable anyone foolish enough to engage in this kind of fraud.”
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 480 years in prison, 3 years of supervised release, at $6,000,000 fine, and a $2,400 special assessment.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.