MEDLEY, FLA. (WSVN) - A Medley councilwoman has bonded out jail after she was accused of defrauding a non-profit foundation while serving as its executive director.
Ana Lilia Stefano, 57, faces charges of organized scheme to defraud over $50,000 and grand theft over $20,000.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced her arrest Tuesday.
“It’s very disturbing,” said Rundle, “and they’re very serious acts and crimes that she’s been charged with because they’re so morally and ethically reprehensible, if you think about it.”
While serving as the executive director for the Santana Moss Foundation, Stefano was accepting food donations from Feeding South Florida. While some of it went to those in need, investigators alleged she was also selling it on the side to churches and healthcare clinics as well as using some of that cash for personal reasons.
Stefano denied the accusations that were made about her.
“Let me get through this, and I will be very open with you as my attorney will,” said Stefano. “When the time comes, you will know everything. I’m not hiding, OK?”
According to the arrest warrants, Stefano has withdrawn more than $19,000 of foundation money at South Florida casinos since 2018.
“People trusted her to be honest and have integrity and to lead, and instead she stole,” said Rundle.
The Town of Medley released a statement that said, “The Town of Medley has no official statement as, to our knowledge, the alleged crimes are not associated with the councilperson Stefano’s official elected position.”
The Santana Moss Foundation was created by former NFL wide receiver Santana Moss in 2001.
According to investigators, Moss hadn’t been involved with the charity for years and stated, “this is all news to me. I’m clueless. In short, the bottom line is, I didn’t sell any food.”
“What we have today is a very strong arrest warrant,” said Rundle, “and we believe that, you know, hopefully, justice will prevail.”
“It’s embarrassing, but you know what, at the same time, what should I be embarrassed about? Something I didn’t do? I’m not embarrassed,” said Stefano. “My constituents know who I am and what I’ve done. I’m not worried about that.”
Stefano insisted she will not resign from her position.
On Wednesday morning, Medley Mayor Roberto Martell released a statement reading in part, “Our residents must have confidence in their local elected leadership. I fully support the Governor if he chooses to remove her from office pending the outcome of the case.”
Feeding South Florida said they hope the investigation runs its due course but their focus is on the people they serve in the community.
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