The executive director of a Queens not-for-profit organization has been caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
On Wednesday, a Brooklyn federal grand jury charged Yolanda Vitulli, executive director of Tender Care Human Services Inc., a not-for-profit that provided services to people with autism and other developmental disabilities throughout New York City, with embezzling approximately $100,000 in federal and state funds meant for the organization to fund her lavish lifestyle.
“The very definition of charity is to give to those in need. Instead, the subject in this case decided the $100,000 she’s accused of stealing would be better spent making her life easier,” said Diego Rodriguez, FBI assistant director-in-charge. “Theft is a crime, but to take from those who are in need of help makes this case more egregious.”
Vitulli was the executive director of Tender Care, located at 92-21 165th St. in Jamaica, from January 2001 to May 2016, during which time the organization received approximately $3 million in federal and New York State Medicaid funding each year.
According to the allegation, the investigation revealed that between 2009 and May 2014, Vitulli stole funds from Tender Care in order to pay for housekeepers to do various tasks around her home, such as cleaning her residence, doing her laundry, and providing childcare.
Also, between January 2012 and November 2013, it is alleged that Vitulli used her organization’s funds to hire a contractor to make upgrades to her home, including purchasing and installing a hot tub, fence, furniture and security cameras.
“The defendant allegedly stole public funds meant for the developmentally disabled in order to subsidize her own life of luxury,” said New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott. “This indictment should serve as warning to any officers and agents of charitable providers who exploit taxpayer funds intended for critical public services; they will be identified, apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I will continue to work closely with my state and federal law enforcement partners to pursue and hold accountable anyone who attempts to defraud the public welfare system and the people it serves.”
Vitulli is expected to appear in Brooklyn federal court on Friday.