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Spokane

Charity rip-off case ends

Wed., Sept. 23, 2009

Second former Meals on Wheels worker pleads guilty, to pay $5,000

A financial scandal that ravaged a nonprofit organization dedicated to feeding low-income people earned the last of two women responsible a felony theft conviction Tuesday.

Rachelle D. Solomon, 39, received no jail or probation after pleading guilty to first-degree theft but was ordered to pay $5,000 to Mid-City Concerns’ Meals on Wheels in a sentencing deal approved by Spokane County Superior Judge Michael Price.

“Ms. Solomon’s obviously very sorry about what she did,” her lawyer, Richard Agman, said in court. “Obviously, what she did was wrong.”

While working for the agency, Solomon and Cheri Mataya-Muncton, 43, spent thousands of dollars in Meals on Wheels donations on a Florida vacation, Victoria’s Secret shopping sprees, video rentals, lunches, computer equipment, home upgrades and furniture.

An auditor hired by Meals on Wheels traced about $81,000 of the charity’s money to Mataya-Muncton and Solomon through questionable credit card receipts, pre-tax payroll deduction and cashed checks, according to court documents.

About $30,000 could be connected to the women “beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Jared Cordts. Cordts said he settled for $15,000 restitution “to preclude having to go through a two-week trial.”

Mataya-Muncton paid $10,000 before pleading guilty to first-degree theft, a felony, in June. She received no jail time or probation. Mataya-Muncton was the agency’s director for 10 years before quitting after being put on leave in December 2006.

Solomon, who worked as her assistant for three years, had left the agency a few months earlier after Mataya-Muncton told the board of directors that Solomon had racked up a $1,500 cell phone bill using charity funds.

But the board noticed Mataya-Muncton hadn’t fired Solomon, she’d laid her off, making her eligible for unemployment, court papers show.

That launched the board’s investigation, which led to criminal charges. Current and former employees told police of widespread and sometimes blatant misuse of money.

Some board members suspected that the women tried keeping co-workers quiet with cash bonuses and yearlong tanning salon memberships.

The case triggered revised financial oversight procedures at Mid-City Concerns, where the new chairman of the board of directors said the women had worked under little scrutiny. Solomon’s sentence prohibits her from contacting Mataya-Muncton.

Solomon declined comment after the sentencing. She’s to begin repaying Meals on Wheels $50 a month in November.

“It’s going to be following you for quite some time,” said Price.



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