After working for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for 22 years, the ex-CFO blamed the institution’s sex-abuse scandals for her decision to embezzle $900,000.
42-year-old Anita Guzzardi was sentenced on Aug. 24 to two-to-seven years in prison for embezzlement. She said she succumbed to gambling and shopping addictions, which were fueled by a 2005 grand jury report that detailed sex abuse from priests within the archdiocese.
When she learned of the news in 2005, she felt betrayed.
But Guzzardi’s decision to steal from her employer is curious, considering she made $124,000 a year and had a household income of over $300,000 a year.
The Assistant District Attorney said Guzzardi took relatives on trips to Hawaii, the Caribbean and San Francisco, and spent lavishly on herself and others. She also spent heavily on spas, restaurant meals and flowers and made extra mortgage payments on the couple’s $425,000 house in suburban Haddon Heights, N.J.
American Express found out about the scam when it questioned the use of church checks to pay monthly bills that sometimes topped $29,000.
So far she’s been cooperative: She repaid around $260,000 and has met with authorities to sort out the financial fraud. Her lawyer still blames the 2005 sex abuse scandal, though, and claims that the 2005 scandal is far worse for the archdiocese than anything Guzzardi had done.
So, in addition to knowing what not to do when berating a fast-food employee, know this, CFOs: If you ever decide to get greedy with your company’s funds, understand that two wrongs don’t make a right.
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