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Anita Alvarez
Cook County State's Attorney
Communications Department
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 603-3423
saomedia@cookcountyil.gov


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 14, 2013

Former School Fundraiser Receives
Prison Sentence For Tuition Assistance Program Theft


The former coordinator of a fundraising program at a Catholic school on Chicago’s northwest side has been sentenced to three years in prison for stealing tens of thousands of dollars in school funds that were supposed to be used to help lower tuition costs for underprivileged children, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Yolanda Kozicz, 44, of Chicago, was found guilty of Theft for stealing more than $50,000 in funds from a tuition reduction incentive program at St. Pascal’s School in Chicago’s Portage Park community.  At the time that Kozicz was charged with the thefts, she was serving as coordinator of a school program in which the school purchased gift cards from various retail establishments at reduced rates and then re-sold the cards to raise funds to help lower tuition for underprivileged students.

According to prosecutors, when Kozicz took over the program in 2001, there was nearly $25,000 in cash and an inventory of $20,000 in gift certificates on hand.  In this position she was solely responsible for ordering gift cards, conducting sales, maintaining inventory and depositing the proceeds of sales.

School board members began to notice that she failed to provide financial reports regarding her activities and there was a reduction in the profits the program was generating. Their suspicions grew when she began to be late in delivering the gift cards and began to require buyers to place their orders several weeks in advance.

Kozicz was eventually forced out as the coordinator of the program and a joint investigation was launched with State’s Attorney’s Office and the Archdiocese of Chicago which found that the program had more than $4,000 in cash and only $30 in gift cards. A further review of records revealed that numerous purchases of gift cards had been made but there were significant discrepancies in the funds coming in that the sales should have produced.

The investigation revealed that the defendant’s thefts cost the school $51,942.49 which would have been used to offset tuition costs for underprivileged children.

Kozicz was found guilty in a bench trial and sentenced by Judge James Obbish to three years in prison and two years of mandatory supervised release.

 

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