Posted on: May 17, 2022, 03:41h.
Last updated on: May 17, 2022, 05:40h.
A Latino nonprofit in Ohio has closed its doors after the organization’s now-former executive director reportedly admitted to embezzling funds to cover her gambling habit.
Toledo’s The Blade reports that Sabina Serratos is the subject of a criminal complaint recently filed with the Toledo Police Department. Serratos served as the executive director of Adelante, The Latino Resource Center, until her dismissal earlier this year.
Serratos’ termination came after board members were informed of potential fraud stemming from an audit of the organization’s finances conducted by a third party. Adelante Chairman Daniel Briones filed the complaint with police on April 29.
Briones says the audit discovered that more than $400,000 went missing. Auditors linked the missing money back to Serratos and fraudulent business receipts.
Founded in 1990, Adelante is a Latino social services agency and advocacy that provides support, education, and outreach to the local community in Northwest Ohio. Among its initiatives are combating food insecurity, language barriers, and unemployment.
Guilt Reportedly Admitted
Serratos was appointed executive director of Adelante in 2018. In that role, she reportedly had access to the organization’s banking accounts and credit and debit cards. But instead of only using that money for the organization, which primarily comes from the state and county, as well as private donors, Serratos allegedly used the nonprofit as her personal piggy bank.
The Adelante board told ABC13 that Serratos eventually admitted to stealing money to cover her lavish gambling trips. She patronized casinos in Las Vegas and Detroit, but most of the money was spent gambling at Hollywood Casino Toledo.
Auditors believe Serratos gambled away nearly $340,000 of Adelante’s money at the Toledo casino. The bulk of the expenses were incurred in April, August, and November of 2021.
The financial probe additionally turned up unexplainable ATM withdrawals and transactions using Adelante cards totaling $25,445. A loan for $49,900 from KeyBank was also approved for the organization, but auditors say that money also went to the casinos.
The auditor report found potential impropriety and they brought it to our attention. We are reacting to information that was given to us,” Briones told The Blade.
“Our main goal is to file a police report, because that is what our insurance requires. As far as the investigation goes, that is out of our hands,” he added.
Briones said all fundraising efforts have been suspended, and the Adelante facility is closed. Adelante is endowed by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Lucas County Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services.
Latino Culture Potential Culprit
During an April 2020 interview with CBS11, Serratos stressed the struggles that the Latino and Hispanic communities were suffering amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The then-Adelante director said language barriers and many community members being undocumented are complicating the ability to receive federal and state assistance.
Keep in mind, the Latino population is a very private population. There is a stigma with anybody reaching out for any kind of help within our culture,” Serrato said while encouraging anyone in need to call Adelante.
No criminal charges have yet been brought against Serratos. A Change.org petition is calling for the resignation of the entire Adelante board.