MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Former finance director embezzled $3M from Seattle non-profits sentenced

Sep 6, 2023, 7:36 AM | Updated: 10:25 am

Seattle non-profits...

Gavel (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A former finance director of two Seattle non-profits has been sentenced to 41 months in prison following a guilty plea in May.

Susana Tantico of Renton admitted to embezzling money over the course of nine years, and she is being charged with two counts of wire fraud. Tantico pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $3 million to pay for her luxuries in May.

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“Ms. Tantico was a trusted financial professional who sadly used her skills to steal from organizations serving those most in need of help,” said U.S. Attorney Nicholas Brown. “Each time she used the organization’s credit card for trips, gambling, or clothing, she knew she was effectively stealing from people who depended on assistance from her employer. Then she used her access to the organization ledgers to cover up the theft.  The true victims are the clients who should have been served with the funds she stole.”

The 62-year-old worked in the finance departments of Country Doctor Community Health Centers, which provides healthcare to low-income people, where she embezzled nearly $2.3 million to pay for family vacations and purchases at Nordstrom and Apple, and even withdrew $1.6 million at casinos for gambling. She stole the money from 2011 to 2020.

Tanico disguised the payments as legitimate and expensive, including medical supplies.

She later went to work at Community Passageways, which focused on youth and criminal justice issues, where she stole nearly $900,000. She used the money to pay off her mortgage and personal expenses and used more than $485,000 at casinos. She claimed that the non-profit held youth programs at the casinos and claimed the withdrawals were for cash prize giveaways.

The non-profit has spent $132,000 to forensically audit its books and fix its accounting procedures.

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Tanico was investigated by the FBI in 2022, according to KUOW.

In recommending a 41-month sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson noted, “Tantico abused positions of trust. Tantico was hired (twice) to safeguard the finances of her employers, and they trusted her to manage the funds with integrity. Instead, Tantico not only stole the money, but used her position to hide her theft.”

Following prison, Tantico will be on three years of supervised release. She has a restitution obligation of $3,121,572. She provided the court with a $60,000 check Sept. 5, from the sale of her home.

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Former finance director embezzled $3M from Seattle non-profits sentenced