For Immediate Release - October 18, 2012

Former Controller of Holyoke Counseling Center Arraigned in Connection with Stealing More Than $80,000 From Organization

Also Arraigned on Charges in Connection with Doctoring Books in Attempt to Hide Theft

SPRINGFIELD – The former controller of River Valley Counseling Center (RVCC) has been arraigned in connection with stealing more than $80,000 from the non-profit organization, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. She was also arraigned on charges in connection with altering the corporate books in an attempt to hide the theft.

Lauri Lewinski, 53, of Warren, was arraigned today in Hampden Superior Court on the charges of Larceny Over $250 (12 counts), False Entry in Corporate Books (6 counts), Larceny Under $250, Forgery, and Uttering. At the arraignment, Lewinski pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance, with the condition that she not have any contact with employees of RVCC or any Commonwealth witnesses.  Hampden Superior Court Judge Kinder presided over the arraignment.

In July 2010, the AG’s Office began an investigation after being contacted by the Holyoke Medical Center regarding alleged larcenies by the former controller, Lewinski, at their subsidiary company, River Valley Counseling Center. RVCC is a non-profit counseling center and licensed mental health facility serving Hampden County. The administrative office at which Lewinski worked was located in Holyoke, but RVCC has program locations in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield. Lewinski had been hired in 2005 as controller of the organization and her duties included overseeing accounting practices and implementing and monitoring internal financial controls.

Authorities allege that from 2006 to 2010, Lewinski stole more than $80,000 from the organization using several different methods. Investigation revealed that in one instance, Lewinski issued an RVCC check for over $6,000 to Ford Motor Credit to pay off the balance on her personal vehicle. According to authorities, Lewinski also used RVCC checks and credit cards to purchase personal items such as gas, groceries, and electronics. She allegedly also regularly kept and used for herself gift cards given to the non-profit. Authorities further allege that she failed to deposit money collected from the Day Treatment lunch program, which offers RVCC clients a daily low-cost lunch, and instead deposited the money into her own bank account. According to authorities, Lewinski failed to record transactions and made false entries in the corporate books in an attempt to hide her theft.

A Hampden Grand Jury returned indictments against Lewinski on September 18, 2012.  She was arraigned today and released on personal recognizance. She is due back in Hampden Superior Court on March 4, 2013 for a pre-trial conference.

These charges are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Beth Ann Lux, of the AG’s Western Massachusetts Regional Office, with assistance from Financial Investigator Brian Bukuras of the AG’s Financial Investigations Division. Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office also assisted in the investigation.

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