Rec Center Director Accused of Stealing Kids' Lunch Money

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Maria Guiterrez says she forgoes paying her credit card bills for months to send her children to summer camp at Montecito Heights Recreation Center. A director at the rec center has been accused of stealing $17,000 from the facility, including lunch money from kids in her care. Kim Baldonado reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2012. (Published Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012)

    A director of the Montecito Heights Recreation Center is accused of stealing more than $10,000 from the facility, including lunch money from kids at the center's day camp, according to the city controller’s office.

    Carol Brandt was arrested on Tuesday and released without having to post bail on Wednesday. She's accused of pocketing some $17,000 including funds from soccer teams applying to use the rec center's fields, basketball teams, proceeds from the center's snack bar and cash payments from kids on a field trip.

    "She allegedly sunk to the lowest level possible," said City Controller Wendy Greuel. "She stole children’s lunch money."

    Montecito Heights is a working-class neighborhood where parents say they make sacrifices to send their kids to day camp.

    "Sometimes I don't pay my credit card for two months and I pay them for camp, so that's sad," said Maria Guiterrez. "She's using money for herself. That's not fair."

    In a news conference Wednesday night, Gruel detailed one accusation leveled against Brandt. Twenty-one campers were asked to bring $10 to cover their meals during a field trip, she said.

    Brandt allegedly pocketed that $210 and charged the excursion to the city's credit card, Gruel said, adding that camp leaders complained the students did not have enough food during the trip.

    Gruel’s office investigated the allegations and turned over its findings to the Public Integrity Division of the District Attorney's Office.

    Brandt became a city employee in 1997, according to KPCC. She’s accused of taking the money between 2009 and 2010, and has been on a personal leave without pay since May 2011 when the investigation began.

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