A former lay employee for the Catholic Convent in Los Gatos was charged Wednesday with 14 counts of wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.
According to the indictment, Linda Gomez, a.k.a. Linda Surrett, 65, of Sunnyvale, used her administrative positions to embezzle cash and to charge personal expenses to a convent charge card.
It's alleged that between 1987 and 2010, Gomez worked for the convent in various administrative capacities, including as the director of food services and the manager of an on-site convenience store.
As part of her professional responsibilities, Gomez made purchases for the 75 Catholic nuns and 60 lay employees at the convent, according to the indictement.
The Indictment charges that between March 2008 and her resignation in May 2010, Gomez used various methods to embezzle from the convent, including obtaining fraudulent reimbursements or credits for products she falsely claimed she had purchased for the convent and its nuns.
The Indictment states that Gomez embezzled more than $100,000 from the convent.
In addition to embezzling more than $47,000 in cash, Gomez also fraudulently diverted more than $53,000 of convent funds for personal expenses such as jewelry, high-end cutlery, purses, shoes, kitchen appliances, and numerous purchases on the QVC and Home Shopping Networks.
Gomez has not been arrested yet, according to United States Attorney's Office spokesman Jack Gillund.
She will be issued a summons to appear in court on Jan. 10, 2012, before United States Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal. The case is assigned to United States District Court Judge Lucy Koh.
The maximum statutory penalty for wire and mail fraud is 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million, plus restitution, Gillund said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Fazioli is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Legal Assistant Kamille Singh. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gillund added.
Mafalda Soares, a representative of the convent, declined comment Thursday and referred questions about the case to the Order's communications director Francine Redick.