The former head of a local LGBT organization pleaded guilty last week to stealing money from the group.
Dorena Kearney, former executive director of The COLOURS Organization Inc., which provides services to LGBT people of color, pleaded guilty in federal district court June 4 to taking more than $138,700 from the group for personal use.
Kearney, 45, served as executive director of COLOURS from 2001-07.
Michael Hinson, interim executive director of COLOURS, said members of the organization’s board of directors initially uncovered the misappropriation.
“This was something that was discovered by the board, and the board took action to bring this to the attention of the proper authorities, who we knew needed to know about this,” Hinson said.
He said Kearney had stepped down as executive director before the board made its discovery.
“She was not in the office at the time when these things were discovered, and that’s how they got discovered,” he said. “She was still actively involved with the agency, but she just wasn’t in the office. By the time we actually knew that this was something that was really beyond our control, in terms of it being something we had to go outside and seek additional help on, she had already been on a leave of absence.”
According to court documents, Kearney opened four credit-card accounts in both her name and in the name of COLOURS and, between June 2004-07, used the accounts to fund personal expenses.
Kearney used the money to buy such items as groceries, cable-TV service, furniture, pet food, clothing, shoes, jewelry and legal fees as well as on cruises and for cosmetic surgery.
“There’s no excuse for her conduct,” said Kearney’s attorney, Joseph Capone. “However, she is very remorseful and contrite.”
Kearney was released on $50,000 bail. U.S. District Judge Anita Brody scheduled her sentencing for Oct. 12. She could face up to 18 months in prison.
Brody also ordered Kearney to undergo mental-health treatment and barred her from traveling outside of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.
The City Inspector General’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation headed the investigation into Kearney.
The FBI played a role in the investigation because COLOURS receives federal funding, in addition to city money.
Inspector General Amy Kurland said she could not comment on whether or not the investigation was ongoing.
“She’s been charged, and that’s really all I can say right now,” Kurland said.