CFO Sentenced to Year in Jail for Stealing More Than $400,000 from JCC and to Tax Evasion
SAN DIEGO—Former Chief Financial Officer Nancy Johnson was sentenced today to 12 months and one day in jail for embezzling over $400,000 from the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center (“JCC”) located in La Jolla, California. United States District Judge Dana M. Sabraw remarked that the “depth of the crime is startling” and criticized Johnson’s “selfish, decadent spending at the expense of a wonderful community organization.”
Johnson served as the JCC’s Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) from April 1991 to April 2014, overseeing its $13 million annual budget. As CFO, Johnson had access to the JCC’s bank accounts, credit card accounts, and bookkeeping records. Johnson used her access (between 2008 and April 2014) to misappropriate $412,289.64, which she used for a variety of purchases including: a stay at the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui; airfare to the Bahamas; Jimmy Choo footwear; tickets to the ESPN X Games; and dinners at upscale eateries such as Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
At the same time Johnson was embezzling funds to pay for lavish vacations and designer clothing, she claimed that the JCC could not afford the numerous programs and activities offered to the community. In fact, Johnson ordered JCC department heads to reduce expenses to make up for the hundreds of thousands of dollars she was siphoning off from the JCC coffers. Moreover, due in part to the embezzlement, the JCC was forced to cut personnel in order to balance its budget. Johnson continued her theft until leaving the JCC in the spring of 2014.
Johnson 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, Johnson would simply use the JCC’s credit cards to make personal purchases. In order to fool the JCC’s executive staff, auditors, and bookkeepers, Johnson falsely characterized the purchases as legitimate JCC expenses. At the end of the year, Johnson would then allocate her personal expenses to the JCC departments that had not exceeded their budgets.
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 observed that charitable organizations add much to this region’s quality of life. “I shall do everything in my power to ensure that white collar predators don’t prevent the less fortunate from receiving all the benefits that the generous citizens of San Diego County provide through organizations such as the JCC.”
Judge Sabraw ordered Johnson to pay $115,441.10 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and noted that Johnson had already repaid the $412,289.64 owed to the JCC.
Case Number 15cr1446-DMS Nancy Johnson Age: 59 Escondido, 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: Three years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine
Federal Bureau of Investigation Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation