Crime

Woman pleads guilty to embezzling about $100K from Appalachian Children's Chorus

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) - A woman pleaded guilty to embezzling about $100,000 from the Appalachian Children's Chorus.

According to the Prosecuting Attorney for Kanawha County, Charles Miller, Jacqueline Holly Portillo, 51, of Hurricane pled guilty to four felony charges of embezzlement related to her former employment with the Appalachian Children's Chorus.

A release from Miller said the embezzlement covered the period of Portillo's employment with the chorus, from March of 2010 to August of 2017.

The release said that Portillo, who was the executive director of the chorus, used the chorus' bank accounts and credit cards to embezzle $97,514.42.

Miller says that Portillo was able to conceal the embezzlement by submitting falsified bank statements to the chorus' accountants. The full extent of Portillo's theft was uncovered after she was from the chorus.

The Appalachian Children's Chorus is a non-profit entity who provides musical education and performance experience for children in this state. The Chorus is partially funded by the State of West Virginia through the former Division of Culture and History.

Miller says that it appears the loss of money has placed the organization and its good works at risk.

"It is terrible that somebody can steal from programs designed to help and educate children in this State without regard for the consequences of the theft," said Miller. 

Miller hopes that the chorus can continue its operations.

It appears from the investigation that the stolen funds were used by Portillo for veterinary treatment and training for her dogs, personal purchases for Portillo and family members, and personal travel and hotel stays.

The total loss suffered by the Chorus is placed at over $101,700.

The State of West Virginia has recommended that Portillo is sentenced to one to ten years in the penitentiary, in addition to the entry of a restitution judgment against Portillo.

Because some of the funds embezzled by Portillo were taxpayer-funded grants from the State of West Virginia, Division of Culture and History, the investigation was conducted by the West Virginia Legislature's Commission on Special Investigations, directed by Charles Bedwell. 

The investigator was Jeff Shriner of the Commission. The Assistant Prosecuting Attorney assigned to the case is Robert Schulenberg.


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