Guilty Plea for Embezzling from Chelmsford Nonprofit

November 16, 2018

Assistant Attorney General Paula DeGiacomo, left, attorney Michael Heiner and defendant Amy Young in Middlesex Superior Court last month. On Wednesday, Young pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $126,000 from nonprofit LifeLinks in Chelmsford. SUN file PHOTO/ Alana Melanson Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

WOBURN -- A Lowell woman accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from a Chelmsford non-profit that serves people with disabilities will serve two years of probation after pleading guilty in court Wednesday.

Former LifeLinks employee Amy Young pleaded guilty to a single charge of larceny over $250 by a single scheme in Middlesex Superior Court.

Judge Bruce Henry sentenced Young to two years of probation and ordered she not be employed in a fiduciary or financial capacity during the term of the probation.

Young initially pleaded not guilty to the charge at her Oct. 2 arraignment.

She was charged in September with embezzling nearly $136,000 from LifeLinks between November 2011 and 2016 after an investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office that spanned more than a year.

“We criminally charged this individual for stealing tens of thousands of dollars intended to help people with disabilities and their families. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced by a judge for her crimes,” AG’s Office spokesperson Alex Bradley said in a statement Thursday. “This defendant took advantage of her position for her own personal profit while compromising funds for people in need and the AG’s Office will continue to investigate and prosecute these cases.”

LifeLinks believes the thefts go back about seven fiscal years, and total $286,000.

A nonprofit affiliated with The ARC of Greater Lowell, LifeLinks provides services and support to Greater Lowell adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Young was hired there as a unit case manager in April 2006, and promoted to director of family support in June 2013.

As director of that portion of the agency, she was responsible for managing and distributing funds provided through state Department of Developmental Services contracts for such client services as skill and literacy training programs, physical therapy, respite care, home equipment and modifications, events and recreation.

According to the statement of the case from the AG’s Office, Young used her position for personal and family gain, forging documents to obtain checks her employer thought were for legitimate purposes to serve clients. She used the state-provided funds for home modifications, family medical bills, gym memberships, home items, electronic equipment, a party for her son and various items and services for her disabled daughter.

LifeLinks’ Finance Department uncovered the embezzlement scheme in July 2016 upon requesting backup documentation for an already approved $2,2000 check purportedly for a “Family Support Parents Night Out” at a local bowling alley on July 16, 2016, and a $440 service charge on her LifeLinks Visa card on the same date purportedly for a “Best Club” event for young adults.

Young provided names of clients and families involved in these purported events, but the case managers and families, when contacted, said no such events occurred. The case managers also revealed that Young’s Facebook messages around that time showed she had hosted a sorority reunion party at the bowling alley on that date.

Young was suspended on or about Aug. 31, 2016, and terminated the following day. LifeLinks initiated an investigation of previous check request forms and documentation submitted by Young and confirmed with certain vendors that they “had never done work or performed services for the individuals” listed on the documents, “but that they had done work or performed services for Young or her family members,” according to the case statement.

Chelmsford police investigated the matter before it was turned over to the AG’s Office.

In April, LifeLinks filed a civil case against Young in Middlesex Superior Court, seeking repayment of the full $286,000 it believes Young stole, including $228,455 in state funds LifeLinks repaid the state from its reserves.

That case remains unresolved despite a July 9 execution on a May 31 default judgment from the court that Young must repay LifeLinks $288,139, including interest.

LifeLinks CEO Jean Phelps and Young’s attorney, Michael Heiner, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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

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