Adelante is a Latino non-profit organization that was founded more than two decades ago. The Latino and Community Resource Center has a mission to support communities and individuals throughout the Northwest via economic literacy, education, prevention, and other social services. A new report reveals that Adelante’s operations have been temporarily impacted after allegations emerged that a former director embezzled more than $400,000 to use for gambling.
External Audit Uncovers Discrepancies, Adelante Files Legal Complaint
Late last week, the Toledo Blade revealed that Adelante’s board chairman, Daniel Briones, filed a legal complaint against the organization’s former director, Sabina Serratos. The complaint was filed on April 29 and alleges that Serratos stole more than $400,000. The funds, allegedly embezzled by the former director were used for gambling and personal expenditures at casinos in Las Vegas, Toledo, Ohio, and Michigan.
The allegation described that the thefts started in 2019 and kept going for approximately two years. An independent six-month audit was completed by a third-party company last month. The audit discovered “considerable deficiencies” and helped uncover the alleged fraudulent activity.
“Our main goal is to file a police report because that is what our insurance requires and as far as the investigation goes, that is out of our hands.”
Daniel Briones, board chairman at Adelante
Briones said that the investigation of the alleged fraudulent activity is ongoing. He explained that the auditor report “found potential impropriety,” which was raised to the attention of the management team. Adelante’s chairman added that for insurance purposes a police report had to be filed but added that what will happen afterward remains in the hands of the authorities.
The Allegations Describe Multiple Unauthorized Transactions
The legal complaint against Serratos alleges she used Adelante credit card without authorization, diverted funds from a loan obtained on behalf of the organization for personal expenditures, and produced “fake receipts” that covered casino expenses as business expenses.
The largest sum allegedly was obtained by Serratos and spent at Hollywood Casino Toledo. The legal complaint claims she withdrew nearly $340,000 to spend at the casino on three separate occasions: in April, August, and November last year. What’s more, Briones said that Serratos even admitted to using Adelante funds for personal expenditures during a board meeting in December 2021.
A separate incident alleges that Serratos obtained a $49,900 loan on behalf of the organization from KeyBank. This happened in January 2019, but according to the legal complaint, the funds were obtained without Adelante’s authorization. The funds were then allegedly spent by Serratos for food and gambling in Las Vegas.
On a different occasion, Serratos allegedly withdrew more than $10,000 from a credit card that belonged to the organization. The alleged offense happened in Las Vegas and the funds were once again spent for gambling and food. Last but not least, the legal complaint claims Serratos withdrew another $10,656 from an automated teller machine at Firekeepers Casino in Michigan.