Former program director of Oahu homeless shelter charged in theft

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HONOLULU — A former program director of a transitional homeless shelter on Oahu is accused of stealing more than $700,000 from her former employer.

Laura Pitolo is charged with five counts of first-degree theft and one count of second-degree theft in connection with the money stolen from Waianai Community Outreach in Kalaeloa between March 2007 and July 2010, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper (http://is.gd/b27xNl) reported. An arrest warrant for Pitolo was issued Tuesday by a state judge.

There is no listing in Hawaii for Pitolo, and she could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Pitolo wrote unauthorized checks to herself and others and made unauthorized debit card transactions and ATM withdrawals, according to the state Attorney General's Office. Because the shelter receives state funding, the state is listed as a victim in the case.

In 2013, the shelter organization filed a lawsuit against Pitolo in 2013, alleging $732,046 in operational and client trust funds were stolen. Pitolo has not appeared in any of the three hearings held in court for the lawsuit, which was filed as the three-year statute of limitations was about to run out without any charges being filed.

The state Attorney General's Office is invoking a section of the law that starts the three-year statute of limitations with the date a crime is discovered if it involves deception, fraud or breach of a fiduciary obligation.

Sept. 5, 2013, is the date the state says it learned of the thefts.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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