Anita Guzzardi

Anita Guzzardi

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s former chief financial officer, Anita Guzzardi, was arrested after turning herself in to Philadelphia detectives March 13.

Guzzardi, 42, was charged with five counts mostly of theft stemming from her alleged embezzlement of more than $900,000 in archdiocesan funds from 2005 to summer of 2011, according to a press release from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

That office notified the Archdiocese July 13, 2011 that it was investigating Guzzardi after credit card issuer American Express reported “suspicious activity” concerning her two Amex accounts, the DA’s release said.

According to a statement from the archdiocesan communications office, the Archdiocese worked closely with the DA and Guzzardi was placed on leave the following day.

After a preliminary internal forensic financial investigation by the Archdiocese, she was fired on July 22. The internal investigation continued and by August, the Archdiocese had shared all its findings with the DA’s office.

The DA revealed March 13 that Guzzardi allegedly used 184 archdiocesan checks drawn from the general operating fund of the Archdiocese to pay her American Express bills from 2005 to July 2011.

She also allegedly used 146 archdiocesan checks to pay her other personal credit card bills.

The DA said it had been able to retrieve $150,000 from Guzzardi and the amount will be returned to the Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese said insurance will cover most of the embezzled funds and a portion of the fees for the Church’s internal investigation.

“Donations to the Heritage of Faith-Vision of Hope capital campaign and the annual Catholic Charities Appeal” – both major fundraising appeals for the Archdiocese – were not impacted,” the Archdiocese’s release said.

Both appeals are separate 501(c)(3) entities whose funds cannot be accessed except for the charitable purposes for which they are intended.

The alleged theft also had no effect on the work of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Catholic education or the decisions to close or regionalize any school, according to the release.

Guzzardi faces charges including theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, theft by receiving stolen property, forgery and unlawful use of a computer.

Before Guzzardi was fired last July 22 she had served as CFO for only three weeks. She had been acting CFO since Jan. 1, 2011.

Guzzardi holds a master’s degree in business administration and had served in several positions in the Archdiocese, mostly in finance, since 1989. She became the coordinator and financial manager for the Office of Renewal and Evangelization in July 1998, after which she transferred to the archdiocesan Office for Parish Financial Services in November 2001 as its director.

She transferred to the Office for Accounting Services in December 2002 and was named controller of the Archdiocese, the position she held until 2011.

Archbishop Charles Chaput referred to Guzzardi’s alleged theft in his Feb. 3 column on (see: Putting our house in order).

“People are angry about this loss, and they’re right. So am I. There’s no excuse for it,” he wrote.

Protections today are in effect “to help prevent this kind of damaging criminal activity in the future,” he wrote. “Working with our Archdiocesan Priests’ Council, our Archdiocesan Finance Council and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council … I do promise that every aspect of our shared life as a Church will be subject in the years ahead to the kind of clarity, greater accountability and careful stewardship our people deserve.”

Archbishop Chaput announced recently that Tim O’Shaughnessy had been named the Archdiocese’s new chief financial officer. He joins another recent hire, Marc Fisher, the Archdiocese’s top internal auditor.