DA: Fmr. Archdiocese CFO stole $900,000

Anita Guzzardi

March 13, 2012 11:27:25 AM PDT
The former CFO of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been arrested for allegedly stealing nearly one million dollars in church money to pay her credit card bills.

Anita Guzzardi, 42, surrendered to the district attorney's office on Tuesday morning.

According to the D.A.'s office, an investigation into Guzzardi began in July, 2011 when American Express contacted them to report suspicious activity on Guzzardi's accounts.

Investigators say they soon learned that Guzzardi used checks drawn from the general fund of the Archdiocese to pay bills for two personal American Express accounts.

The D.A.'s office said Guzzardi used 184 Archdiocesan checks between 2005 and 2011.

Investigators also said Guzzardi paid a personal Chase credit card with funds from 146 Archdiocesan checks.

A total of more than $900,000 was stolen, the D.A. said. In a statement the Archdiocese said that money was from the general fund.

The statement went on to say that donations to the Heritage of Faith / Vision of Hope capital campaign and the annual Catholic Charities Appeal were not impacted. The theft had no effect on the work of the Blue Ribbon Commission or the decision to close or regionalize any school.

Guzzardi held a number of finance-related positions within the Archdiocese since her hiring in 1989, according to the Archdiocese, and she was formally appointed to the CFO position on July 1, 2011.

The D.A. said the Cyber and Economic Crimes Unit has been able to retrieve $150,000 from Guzzardi, which will be returned to the Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese said insurance will cover most of the costs for embezzled funds and a portion of the fees for the internal investigation.

Guzzardi has been charged with Theft by Unlawful Taking, Theft by Deception, Theft by Receiving Stolen Property, Forgery, and Unlawful Use of a Computer.