VELDA CITY — Federal prosecutors on Thursday said the former treasurer of the St. Louis County community of Velda City stole about $400,000 from the city and $150,000 from a charity for the hearing impaired.
Venita Sedodo, 32, of St. Charles, was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on four wire fraud charges and four mail fraud charges.
Prosecutors say Sedodo wrote about 90 unauthorized city checks to herself from November 2015 to October 2018 and deposited the money in her personal bank accounts. She used the money for clothing, car payments and other personal purchases, they say. She also wrote city checks directly to businesses for personal purchases, and wired money to BMW, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Commerce Bank, they say.
During much of the same time, Sedodo was the trust secretary for the the Travelers Protective Association of America's Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired, prosecutors said. From June 2014 to January 2019, Sedodo submitted grant applications to the charity’s board of trustees, falsely claiming that friends and relatives were deaf or hearing impaired, prosecutors said. She also submitted falsified audiograms and audiological evaluations, they said. Sedodo and her friends and relatives then split the resulting $156,100 in grant money, prosecutors said.
A statement Friday from Albert Shoemaker Jr., chief administrative officer of the Travelers Protective Association of America, said Sedodo was immediately suspended when "suspicious accounting activity" was discovered, and she was fired based on the preliminary report from an external audit. The trust has strengthened financial procedures and has been working closely with federal authorities since March, the statement says. "In cases like this, many companies choose not to prosecute because they fear negative publicity. Our board of directors chose to prosecute at the federal level to prevent this individual from doing this to another organization. This individual was placed in a trusted role and it is deeply disappointing to find that these heinous events were motivated by extreme greed."
Updated Nov. 18 with a statement from the Travelers Protective Association of America.