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Press Release

Former Executive Pleads Guilty to Stealing More Than $400,000 from San Diego Non-Profit

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California


SAN DIEGO – Katherine Lu Acquista, former Director of Operations and Accounting for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that she stole more than $400,000 from the non-profit for her personal benefit.

The Economic Development Corporation, known as EDC, works to maximize San Diego’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness. As Director of Operations and Accounting, Acquista had access to the EDC’s bank accounts, credit cards, checkbook and payroll system. According to her plea agreement, Acquista put personal expenditures on EDC’s credit card and directed the accounting department to issue checks from EDC to herself.

To conceal her scheme, Acquista caused false entries to be made in the non-profit’s accounting system to account for the missing funds. For example, Acquista put personal charges on the EDC credit card, and then caused the expenditures in the EDC’s accounting system to be entered as charges for maintenance and repairs or for office supplies. Similarly, Acquista directed that checks be written to herself from the EDC bank account but then caused the checks to be entered into EDC’s accounting system as charges for recurring IT expenses. Acquista admitted in her plea agreement that as a result of her scheme the EDC lost $433,275.89.

“This defendant took funds that were supposed to make San Diego a stronger business community and spent them on herself,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath.  “Our office takes embezzlement from local businesses very seriously and will continue to vigorously prosecute these cases.”

“Ms. Acquista worked for an organization whose goal is to help the San Diego community; however, she chose to abuse her position of trust within the organization,” said FBI San Diego Acting Special Agent in Charge John Kim. “The FBI remains committed to ensuring that individuals who deliberately compromise the integrity of their position and organization for personal gain will be brought to justice.”

Acquista is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Battaglia for sentencing on July 15, 2024, at 9 a.m.

DEFENDANTS                                 Case Number 24CR0765-AJB

Katherine Lu Acquista                                    Age: 47                                   Escondido, CA


Wire Fraud - Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1343

Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison; $250,000 fine or the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater


Federal Bureau of Investigation


Media Relations Director Kelly Thornton (619) 546-9726 or

Updated April 25, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: CAS24-0425-Acquista