THE ARCHDIOCESE of Philadelphia trusted Anita Guzzardi with its money so much that church officials made her their chief financial officer last July 1.
Before that month was over, however, Guzzardi was found allegedly to have looted more than $900,000 from church coffers while in lower-level financial positions, and she was fired.
Yesterday, the Camden County woman turned herself in to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, which charged her with theft, forgery, unlawful use of a computer and related crimes.
Officials said that her theft of church funds began in 2005 and continued through last summer.
The investigation of Guzzardi, 42, began the same month that she became CFO, after American Express contacted the D.A.'s Office's economic-crime unit to report suspicious activity with two of Guzzardi's cards, according to a statement that the D.A.'s Office released yesterday.
"It was discovered that [Guzzardi] had used numerous checks drawn from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia general fund to pay on her two personal accounts," the D.A.'s statement said. "In total, from 2005 to July 2011, Guzzardi used 184 archdiocesan checks to pay her AMEX bills.
The statement also said that she was found to have been paying her personal Chase credit card with church money and had used 146 archdiocesan checks for that account.
Kenneth Gavin, a spokesman for the Archdiocese, said in a statement that the church has worked closely with the D.A.'s Office on the case.
Guzzardi's alleged embezzlement from the general fund did not affect the Archdiocese's Heritage of Faith - Vision of Hope capital campaign and the annual Catholic Charities Appeal, he said.
The theft also had no impact on recent decisions by an archdiocesan commission to close or regionalize schools within the Archdiocese.