A bookkeeper who stole $300,000 from the charity that employed her for 23 years was sentenced on Monday to a year in jail and ordered to repay the money.
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Judy T. Gordon, 79, pleaded guilty in March to grand theft and two counts of forgery.
Handcuffs were snapped on Gordon's wrists after the judge gave her the maximum sentence allowed under the conditions of her plea deal.
Gordon was originally charged with 31 felony counts of forgery and grand theft, after the Vista-based Trauma Intervention Program noticed some problems with the books she kept over the last four years she worked with them.
The Trauma Intervention Program is a national organization that works with police and fire departments to send trained citizen volunteers help people cope with tragedies, such as murder and devastating fires and car crashes.
Wayne Fortin, who founded the non-profit, spoke out at Monday's sentencing, saying Gordon deserved the greatest punishment allowed by law.
"We thought that she loved us and loved the organization, but clearly she didn't," said Fortin, who told the court he felt betrayed by Gordon's criminal actions.
Fortin said the amount of money stolen was $300,000, but the plea deal allowed Gordon to admit to $200,000.
He said $300,000 is enough to begin three new chapters of the Trauma Intervention Program.
"I estimate that because those chapters won't be established [and] 15,000 citizens suffering the worst time in their lives won't receive the comforting support of TIP volunteers," Fortin told the judge.
Fortin said he is disappointed that all Gordon received was a year behind bars.
"For every thousand dollars stolen, that's one day in jail. That's hard for us to get our arms around," he said. "She knew what good we could do with the money she was stealing. She knew that by stealing from us, she was damaging our capacity to help people in the worst time in their lives, but she did it anyway."
Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn said Gordon wrote 181 checks to herself, forging Fortin's signature. She called it a sophisticated embezzlement scheme.
Gordon had more than 50 credit card accounts, which she used to shop for "trinkets" online, according to Winn. Although Gordon lived a modest lifestyle, Winn told 10News the money is gone.
Gordon was ordered to pay back the $300,000 taken in increments of $500 per month. That may be difficult, because her only income is Social Security which pays her $1,375 per month.
Fortin said he does not expect to get the money back, but he is glad Gordon will spend some time in jail.
"We need to know, our donors need to know, the community at large needs to know that you can't steal $300,000, no matter how old you are
and get away with it," he said.
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