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Lowell Woman Allegedly Stole Thousands Meant for Handicapped Kids

October 2, 2018

Assistant Attorney General Paula DeGiacomo, left, attorney Michael Heiner and defendant Amy Young in Middlesex Superior Court Tuesday morning. (SUN PHOTO/ Alana Melanson) Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

WOBURN -- A Lowell woman who allegedly stole nearly $300,000 meant for disabled kids and their families from a Chelmsford nonprofit was arraigned on a related larceny charge Tuesday morning in Middlesex Superior Court.

Amy Young, of Lowell, pleaded not guilty to a charge of larceny over $250. She was released on personal recognizance and ordered not to leave the continental U.S. She is due back in court Nov. 14.

The Attorney General’s office, which charged Young on Sept. 13, alleges Young embezzled more than $100,000 from LifeLinks Inc. from 2011 to 2016.

LifeLinks, a nonprofit affiliated with The Arc of Greater Lowell, provides services and supports to Greater Lowell adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Young, who was LifeLinks’ director of family supports, was fired shortly after other staff members discovered accounting irregularities in August 2016.

The Sun reported in January that a LifeLinks Internal Revenue Service filing showed a comprehensive internal investigation uncovered about $286,000 in misappropriated fund over eight fiscal years. According to that filing, the unsubstantiated expenses were previously charged as reimbursable costs to the state.

Of the $286,000 the former employee allegedly misappropriated for personal and family use, $228,455 was state funds and the remainder was LifeLinks’ money, CEO Jean Phelps said at that time.

The unsubstantiated expenses in fiscal 2016 alone totaled $75,650, according to the organization’s 990 form for 2015, filed in 2016. The 990 is an annual tax form required of nonprofit organizations.

Phelps said in January that LifeLinks worked with various state departments for several months to agree on a number and repaid the stolen funds from its reserves.

LifeLinks took out a civil suit against Young in Middlesex Superior Court earlier this year to recover the money she allegedly stole. On May 31, Judge Maureen Hogan ordered Young to repay the organization $288,139 ($285,790 indebted to LifeLinks plus 1 percent interest per month from April 30 through May 25. The execution on the judgment was issued July 9, according to court information available online.

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.

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