Second Waianae Community Outreach director charged with theft

Local News
sophina placencia and laura pitolo_85567

A second Waianae Community Outreach director has been charged for allegedly diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funds from the troubled non-profit.

Attorney general Doug Chin says Sophina Placencia, 32, was arrested Wednesday for five felony theft counts, allegedly spending more than $200,000 for herself, family members and friends.

She was the organization’s executive director at the time.

“This office will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute individuals that violate the public trust. Individuals that receive State funds must be held accountable for the proper use of those funds,” said Chin. “These thefts directly impacted the services provided to our homeless individuals and families in the Waianae area.”

Placencia was charged with four counts of first degree theft, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, and one count of second-degree theft, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The charges come one week after the attorney general’s office announced another former director had been charged.

Laura Pitolo, 37, was charged on Wednesday, March 18, with six felony theft counts, accused of improperly diverting more than $500,000 in state funds.

She had previously served as Waianae Community Outreach’s program director.

Authorities say Placencia had made theft allegations against Pitolo.

“During the course of investigating Ms. Pitolo’s theft, special agents for the Attorney General determined that Ms. Placencia was also misusing state funds at Waianae Community Outreach,” said Deputy Attorney General Michael Kagami of the Criminal Justice Division.

Pitolo was charged with five counts of first degree theft, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, and one count of second degree theft, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The charges were the result of more than seven months of investigation by special agents for the attorney general.

“Hawaii citizens trust that their hard-earned tax dollars will be used to make communities better and not help one person get rich,” said Chin. “The amount allegedly stolen here is extremely serious.”

Waianae Community Outreach received funding from the state of Hawaii to serve homeless individuals.

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