Executive Director Charged With Embezzling From Charity To Fund Home Renovations And Personal Expenses
Earlier today, a federal grand jury sitting in Brooklyn returned an indictment charging Yolanda Vitulli, the executive director of a charity that provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities, with embezzling approximately $100,000 from the charity for her personal use.
The charges were announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.
As is alleged in the indictment, between January 2001 and May 2016, Vitulli served as the Executive Director of Tender Care Human Services Inc. (Tender Care), a not-for-profit social service provider based in Queens, New York, that provided services to individuals with autism and other development disabilities throughout the New York City metropolitan area. Tender Care received approximately $3 million in federal and New York State Medicaid funding each year to provide the services.
The government’s investigation revealed that between 2009 and May 2014, Vitulli embezzled Tender Care funds to pay housekeepers to clean her residence, do laundry, and provide childcare. Additionally, between January 2012 and November 2013, Vitulli used Tender Care funds to hire a contractor to perform work at her residence, including purchasing and installing a hot tub, fence, furniture, and security cameras.
“The embezzlement of public funds meant to benefit members of our communities most in need of assistance is a serious crime,” stated United States Attorney Capers. “With this indictment, we serve notice that those who engage in such conduct will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted by this Office.” Mr. Capers extended his grateful appreciation to the United States Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, for its assistance.
“The very definition of charity is to give to those in need. Instead, the subject in this case decided the $100,000 she’s accused of stealing would be better spent making her life easier. Theft is a crime, but to take from those who are in need of help makes this case more egregious,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Rodriguez.”
“The defendant allegedly stole public funds meant for the developmentally disabled in order to subsidize her own life of luxury,” said New York State Inspector General Leahy Scott. “This indictment should serve as warning to any officers and agents of charitable providers who exploit taxpayer funds intended for critical public services; they will be identified, apprehended, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I will continue to work closely with my state and federal law enforcement partners to pursue and hold accountable anyone who attempts to defraud the public welfare system and the people it serves.”
The charge in the indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted of embezzling public funds, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Polemeni and Nathan Reilly.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-344