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Anita Guzzardi, 43, of Barrington, has pleaded guilty to stealing about $906,000 from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 2005 through 2011.
Guzzardi, who was the archdiocese’s chief financial officer for a period, could face as much as 21 years in prison, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. But her lawyer told the Associated Press that she likely will face “a few months” in jail.
She will be sentenced Aug. 24.
The Philadelphia Inquirer described the thefts as follows:
As an employee of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Anita Guzzardi, was considered a trusted servant of the church. Once, she headed an office that tried to restore the faith of strayed Catholics.
In her time off, she liked to play the slots at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City and to take vacations, using her American Express card.
And for years, Guzzardi paid those credit card bills by checks from the archdiocese – nearly $1 million in all, according to sources familiar with a continuing investigation by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
The alleged embezzlement went on for at least six years, but no one in the church caught it, sources said. Instead, it was discovered by a fraud investigator with American Express who wondered why the archdiocese was ringing up charges at a casino.
Her defense attorney, Louis Busico, said Guzzardi “always acknowledged wrongdoing” and “has been diligently working to make amends.” Prosecutors said they recovered more than $250,000 from her.