CROWN POINT | The Lake County prosecutor's office is charging a Center Township woman with stealing more than $33,000 in donations from the social action organization One Region.
Dawn O. Williams, 39, is named in three felony counts alleging forgery, fraud on a financial institution and theft.
One Region is the creation of last year's merger of the former Quality of Life Council and the One Region One Vision initiative, which promotes cooperation among leaders in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.
It employed Williams as a bookkeeper.
Munster police allege a One Region official received a tip last December that Williams had defrauded a previous employer several year ago.
Court records indicate Williams pleaded guilty in 2005 — under the name Dawn O. Verdegan — to embezzling $212,000 from Hawk Enterprise while working as a bookkeeper for the Crown Point developer. She also admitted making unauthorized use of money from the Lake County Childcare Development Fund Program.
One Region immediately conducted an audit. Police said Williams admitted she had used One Region money to pay her personal bills but was unsure of how much she had taken.
The audit indicated Williams wrote 25 checks to herself and her landlord totaling $24,991 and made additional unauthorized online debits from One Region's bank account totaling $6,310 to various businesses Williams personally owed money.
Dennis Rittenmeyer, executive director of One Region, told police Williams didn't have authority to write checks from the organization's accounts.
Police said Williams made a $33,329 restitution payment to One Region last January.
Court records indicate Williams was free after posting a $3,000 cash bond this week. No date has been set yet for Williams' initial appearance.
Rittenmeyer said, "No donor money is now missing. We have recovered it all."