For Immediate Release - November 15, 2013

Former Controller of Holyoke Counseling Center Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to Jail in Connection with Stealing More Than $80,000 From Organization

Also Ordered to Pay Restitution

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

“This defendant used her position to steal tens of thousands of dollars from a non-profit mental health facility for her personal use,” AG Coakley said. “These crimes harm both the organizations and the people that they serve.”

Lauri Lewinski, 54, of Warren, pleaded guilty today in Hampden Superior Court to charges of Larceny Over $250 (12 counts), False Entry in Corporate Books (6 counts), Larceny Under $250, Forgery, and Uttering.

After the plea was entered, Superior Court Judge Richard Carey sentenced Lewinski to two-and-half-years in the House of Correction, with one year to serve and the balance suspended for a probationary period of three years. Judge Carey also ordered her to pay $68,304 in restitution. The sentence was stayed until December 2, 2013.

In July 2010, the AG’s Office began an investigation after being contacted by the Holyoke Medical Center regarding 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.

From 2005 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. Lewinski also used RVCC checks and credit cards to purchase personal items such as gas, groceries, and electronics. She also regularly kept and used for herself gift cards given to the non-profit. Lewinski 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 on October 18, 2012 in Hampden Superior Court where she pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Lewinski pleaded guilty today and was sentenced.

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 and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office. Administrators at the Holyoke Medical Center also assisted in the investigation.

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