Worker accused of stealing $1 million from archdiocese over six years

As an employee of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Anita Guzzardi, was considered a trusted servant of the church. Once, she headed an office that tried to restore the faith of strayed Catholics.

In her time off, she liked to play the slots at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City and to take vacations, using her American Express card.

And for years, Guzzardi paid those credit card bills by checks from the archdiocese – nearly $1 million in all, according to sources familiar with a continuing investigation by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

The alleged embezzlement went on for at least six years, but no one in the church caught it, sources said. Instead, it was discovered by a fraud investigator with American Express who wondered why the archdiocese was ringing up charges at a casino.

Guzzardi, 43, of Barrington, was fired last year when the thefts were discovered. Her lawyer, Louis R. Busico, says she is “cooperating fully” with the investigation.

“I’ve been in contact with the District Attorney’s Office, and I’ve been in contact with counsel for the archdiocese, and we’re willing to work with them to resolve any issues about alleged misappropriation of funds,” Busico said.

“The entire incident is very unfortunate for the church as an institution, and for many individuals.”

Indeed, the problem could not have come at a worse time for the archdiocese, which is already struggling to deal with parishioners’ anguish over a sexual-abuse scandal and anger over its plan to close 49 Catholic schools. [more]


Philadelphia Inquirer