Ex-Philadelphia Archdiocese CFO pleads guilty in $900,000 theft

Anita Guzzardi.
Anita Guzzardi.
Posted: July 03, 2012

THE FORMER CFO of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia admitted on Friday in Common Pleas Court to stealing more than $906,000 from the Archdiocese from 2004 until the summer of 2011.

Anita Guzzardi, 43, of Barrington, Camden County, could face up to a maximum of 10?1/2 to 21 years in prison when she is sentenced Aug. 24, the District Attorney's Office said Monday.

The plea was not unexpected. Guzzardi had waived her right to a preliminary hearing in April, and defense attorney Louis R. Busico said then that she planned to admit her wrongdoing.

Busico said Guzzardi, who has no prior criminal history, is "genuinely remorseful" and has "worked hard to right" the situation. Guzzardi has already repaid more than $250,000 to the Archdiocese, the D.A.'s office said.

None of the purloined funds affected the Archdiocese's charity or capital campaign.

The investigation into Guzzardi began in July 2011, when American Express contacted the D.A.'s office to report suspicious activity with two of Guzzardi's Amex accounts, the D.A.'s office said Monday.

Guzzardi reportedly was using checks drawn from the Archdiocese's general fund to pay bills on the two personal accounts.

She was subsequently fired as CFO in July 2011 after she was confronted and initially denied any wrongdoing.

The final results of the D.A.'s investigation revealed that over an almost seven-year period, Guzzardi used 184 archdiocesan checks to pay her Amex bills and 147 archdiocesan checks to pay a personal Chase credit card.

A review of both the Chase expenses and one of the Amex accounts revealed that at least $370,000 in charges were composed of cash advances and purchases at casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas and Key West, as well as in the Caribbean and Mexico, authorities said. Guzzardi also wrote high-dollar checks payable to herself, the D.A.'s office said.

Contact Michael Hinkelman at 215-854-2656 or hinkelm@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @MHinkelman.

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