Former Homeless Center Employee Admits Stealing More Than $70,000 in Government Checks Intended for Unhoused
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew J. Galvin (619) 546-9721
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – September 11, 2015
SAN DIEGO –Tamara Azizov, formerly an accounts payable clerk at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center (“JCC”) in La Jolla, was sentenced today by U.S. District Chief Judge Barry T. Moskowitz to 12 months and one day in jail for embezzling over $150,000 from the JCC, and concealing this income on her federal income tax returns.
Azizov served as an accounts payable clerk from June 1989 to May 2014. In this position, she had access to the JCC’s bank accounts, credit card accounts, and bookkeeping records. Azizov abused this access to misappropriate $154,192.74, which she used for a variety of purchases including: Tom Ford sunglasses; $1,820 for sushi at Zip Fusion; Simone Pérèle lingerie; and thousands of dollars’ worth of clothing from Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Anthropologie.
At the same time Azizov was embezzling funds to pay for jewelry and designer clothing, the JCC had to reduce its community programs because Azizov was siphoning from the JCC coffers. Moreover, due in part to the embezzlement, the JCC was forced to cut personnel in order to balance its budget. Azizov continued her theft until leaving the JCC in May of 2014.
Azizov was able to carry out the embezzlement by virtue of her access to the full range of the JCC’s financial records and accounts. On most occasions, Azizov would simply use the JCC’s credit cards to make personal purchases. In order to fool the JCC’s executive staff, auditors, and bookkeepers, Azizov falsely characterized her personal purchases as legitimate JCC expenses.
The JCC was founded in 1945 and promotes the continuity and vibrancy of the Jewish community by offering social, cultural, educational, and recreational programs and services.
The JCC operates, among other things, a preschool, a center for senior citizens, and one of the largest single-site summer day camps in California. Each year, thousands of community members attend the JCC’s San Diego Jewish Film Festival and the San Diego Jewish Book Fair.
United States Attorney Duffy said that charitable organizations such as the JCC add much to the region’s quality of life, and need protection from the unscrupulous.
“This office is committed to ensuring that white collar predators don’t prevent those less fortunate from receiving all the benefits that the generous citizens of San Diego County provide through organizations such as the JCC.”
Chief Judge Moskowitz also ordered Azizov to pay $154,192.74 in restitution to the JCC.
This is the second conviction and sentencing associated with embezzlement from the JCC. On August 28, 2015, District Judge Dana M. Sabraw sentenced former CFO Nancy Johnson to 12 months and one day for a similar embezzlement scheme that she executed for several years while employed at the JCC. Please see U.S. v. Nancy Johnson, 15-CR-1446-DMS.
DEFENDANT: Case Number 15cr1447-BTM
Tamara Azizov Age: 62 San Diego, CA
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Wire Fraud – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1343
Maximum penalty: 20 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine
Filing a False Tax Return – Title 26, U.S.C., Section 7206(1)
Maximum penalty: 3 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine