Charity treasurer charged with embezzling from organization

PROVIDENCE R.I (WPRI) — The treasurer of the Rhode Island Association for Cardiac Children (RIACC) appeared in court Thursday on charges he embezzled money from the association.

Robert Lonardo is accused of embezzling $186,000 from RIACC, a charity his mother founded. It is alleged that he stole the money between 2013 and 2015.

According to court documents obtained by Eyewitness News, Lonardo, “withdrew funds from RIACC bank accounts, deposited those funds into personal bank accounts and thereafter converted the funds to his own use.”

On June 2, the U.S. Attorney’s office charged him with wire fraud.

Lonardo had little to say in court Thursday as the judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. But Lonardo’s lawyer, Tom Gulick, told Eyewitness News that Lonardo is “accepting responsibility.”

“He was in a desperate situation. His motivation was not of greed,” Gulick said.

He said the money was used to pay off Lonardo’s mother’s medical bills and other debts. According to Gulick, Lonardo is still working with the charity.

RIACC donates money to hospitals to help buy new equipment, helps individual families deal with the needs of children undergoing treatment, and provide scholarships.

Gulick said Lonardo will pay back the money and hopes to put this behind him. Changing his plea could take a week or two, according to Gulick, and then Lonardo will be sentenced.

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