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Former not-for-profit agency director faces felony charges

Felonies constitute the most serious of criminal offenses. In Louisiana, as in most states, felonies include violent crimes such as assault, rape and murder, as well as nonviolent crimes that legislatures determine to be so serious as to warrant extreme punishment. This felony category includes financial crimes against the government and taxpayers. Anyone arrested on a felony charge is subject to severe penalties if convicted. Establishing a strong criminal defense is the only real way for the accused to defend himself or herself against the charges.

In New Orleans recently, the 52-year-old former director of Open World Family Services Inc., a not-for-profit organization, was arrested on three felony charges of stealing state funds amounting to $307,000. The accused woman allegedly used the funds to reimburse personal expenses such as pet supplies, pay her daughter and brother nearly $18,500 using the organization's corporate account and paying her assistant's college tuition, among other things.

The September 15th arrest warrant states that the organization supposedly reimbursed workers' compensation, unemployed compensation and payroll taxes totaling almost $129,500. In reality, those services were never paid, according to the warrant. The woman also was accused of spending public funds for a trip to Liberia and paying homeowner's insurance and veterinarian fees totaling more than $11,100. The woman also allegedly used nearly $149,000 in grant funds for personal expenses.

Felony charges involving money can be difficult to defend. The accused should first learn more about the charges before deciding which legal option to follow. An aggressive approach is advisable if the accused is ready to fight the charges head-on in court. Negotiations, on the other hand, which usually come in the form of a plea deal, is another option for the accused if he or she wishes to potentially get the charges and penalties reduced or avoid trial.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "Education nonprofit director arrested on charges of stealing public money for travel, pets," Naomi Martin, Oct. 29, 2014

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