Former Leader of Hartford Non-Profit Accused of Embezzlement

Officials said much of the money was withdrawn at casino ATMs.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Office of the Chief State's Attorney
    Karen Lewis is accused of embezzlement.

    The former executive director of a Hartford non-profit is accused of stealing more than $205,000 from the non-profit organization, which dissolved in 2010, and withdrawing much of it from ATMs at the local casinos.

    Karen O. Lewis, 57, of Windsor, was arrested late Thursday in connection of the alleged theft of money from the South Arsenal Neighborhood Development Corporation, a non-profit organization that ran several economic and community development programs in the North End of Hartford.

    According to court paperwork, Lewis had players club cards at both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos, and used a SAND debit card to withdraw cash at the casinos, sometimes hitting both of them on the same day.

    Between August 3, 2005 and December 31, 2009, she withdrew $192,504.24 from ATMs at both Mohegan and Foxwoods casinos, according to court paperwork. The debit card was also used to make debit card purchases at stores including Home Depot and Walmart and to pay her Comcast cable bill. 

    One of the non-profit's officials told police that Lewis was hoping for a big win at the casinos to pay the money back. 

    She resigned as executive director as of Dec. 31, 2009.

    The SAND corporation was dissolved on December 30, 2010. Officials told authorities that they realized in late 2009 or early 2010 that SAND could not survive without new sources of funding. Old sources of funds would no longer provide it because the organization was "tainted," according to court documents.

    Officials said the State of Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection referred the case to the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney.

    Lewis turned herself in to inspectors from the Statewide Prosecution Bureau of the Chief State's Attorney's Office and was released on a $150,000 surety bond.

    She was charged with one count of first-degree larceny and is scheduled to appear in Hartford Superior Court on July 28.

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