Almanac

News - April 3, 2013

St. Patrick's finance director accused of stealing $202,000

• Secretary also charged.

by Sandy Brundage

Jennifer Margret Morris, the 57-year-old finance director for St. Patrick's Seminary and University in Menlo Park, has been charged in the theft of $202,000 and a 1982 Mercedes from the institution.

For the past six years, police allege, Ms. Morris reportedly dipped into the seminary's funds to reimburse $166,000 in personal expenses, collect airline miles and overpay herself $36,000, and transferred the title of a car donated to the seminary to her own name while having her employer pay maintenance and registration expenses, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

The missing funds came to light after St. Patrick's conducted an audit upon learning that Ms. Morris allegedly charged seminary purchases to her personal credit card, reportedly to rack up airline miles, then reimbursed herself.

Her secretary, Evelyn Vallacqua, 44, allegedly collected illicit severance pay with the director's approval and helped issue improper reimbursement checks.

Ms. Morris pleaded not guilty on March 29 to four counts of felony embezzlement and one count of taking more than $65,000 worth of property while committing a felony. She is out on $200,000 bail, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 12.

Her co-defendant is also out of custody on $10,000 bail. Ms. Vallacqua's arraignment is set for April 30.

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