MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced charges Tuesday against a woman who is accused of identity theft and theft by swindle involving the nonprofit where she worked, while under investigation for defrauding a different nonprofit.
The complaint alleges 54-year-old Cynthia Wright stole more than $80,000 in federal funds from her employer, Vail Place, where she managed a pool of public money allocated to individuals with mental illnesses who needed help paying their mortgages or rent.
It was discovered that Wright would create fake applications for the funds in her clients’ names and forge their signatures, eventually writing checks meant to go to landlords and other companies on her clients’ behalf out to “cash.” Investigators say between October 2015 and November 2016, $81,901 of that public assistance money was written out to cash, and more than $22,000 was deposited into Wright’s personal bank accounts.
Investigators also discovered Wright was a heavy gambler. Between 2014 and 2017, Wright had gambled more than $1.6 million and lost $100,000.
While working at Vail Place, Wright was charged with theft by swindle in connection with another nonprofit, Resources, Inc., where she had previously worked. Wright pleaded guilty to that charge in 2016 and received a prison sentence that she did not have to serve as long as she complied with the rules of her probation — one of those rules was to remain law abiding.
Wright appeared in court Tuesday on her newest charges, and her next appearance is scheduled for April 5.