The Jewish exhibitor’s former director of business operations, Cheryl Lutts, pleaded guilty in federal court June 28-24 to wire and mail fraud charges involving both the exhibitor and her employer later, the Philly Pops, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Lutts, 43, from Philadelphia, admitted she used the stolen money to pay off thousands of dollars in credit card debt associated with travel and accommodation, legal services and funeral expenses, as well as things like utility bills and his cell phone.
Lutts, who will be sentenced in October, faces a maximum sentence on each count of 20 years in prison, three years of probation, a fine of $250,000 and a special assessment of $100.
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The Inquirer reported that Lutts did not explain to the court what caused the embezzlement, but his attorney, Maranna J. Meehan, said Lutts was undergoing outpatient treatment for opioid addiction.
Prosecutors said Lutts embezzled about $1.19 million from the exhibitor between 2016 and 2019, as well as about $255,000 from The Philly Pops, where she worked as a comptroller after being fired from the exhibitor in August 2019.
Lutts, who was an Exponent employee for 18 years, was fired for poor performance before the fraud was discovered. His replacement found a fabricated bank statement in Lutts’ desk drawer on his first day on the job.
She covered up her actions with falsified bank statements and also secretly pulled out a company credit card in her name.
The exhibitor and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which owned the newspaper at the time, first consulted Frank Riehl, the latter’s director of security, then the Philadelphia Police Department before calling the FBI .
After Lutts was fired by the exhibitor, she began working as a controller for the Philly Pops. The Inquirer reported that a spokesperson for Pops said the organization fired her after discovering “questionable dealings”.