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Ex-Yonkers mayoral aide admits turkey fund theft

NEWS 12 WESTCHESTER: Lorraine Lopez admits she stole more than $5,600 meant for a Thanksgiving food drive. (June 26, 2012)

A former Yonkers mayoral aide admitted Tuesday that she swiped more than $5,600 last year from a city Thanksgiving turkey charity fund.

Lorraine Lopez, 45, of Hayward Street, faces up to seven years in prison after pleading guilty in Westchester County Court to third-degree grand larceny, a felony.

The annual drive is a city-run effort that collects donations to buy Thanksgiving dinners of turkey and all the holiday trimmings for needy families. Lopez, an aide to then-Mayor Philip Amicone, was in charge of the drive last year.

The biggest donor to the charity was Yonkers Contracting, whose employees and management contributed more than $5,600 to the cause.

Lopez, a former city council member, pocketed the money, Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said. It's unclear what she did with the money.

A lawyer for Lopez did not return calls seeking comment. Lopez, who remains free on bail, could not be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano did not respond to requests for comment.

The theft was discovered in January, when Yonkers Contracting contacted the mayor's office to find out how successful the drive was.

City Hall workers knew there was something fishy about the turkey drive when they couldn't find any records indicating money from the fund had been dispersed. The incident was referred to the city's inspector general's office, which launched a probe and then contacted the county district attorney after finding the money had been stolen.

Lopez was arrested April 1 by Yonkers police.

She has already paid back the $5,628 she stole, the district attorney's office said in a statement.

She is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 18 by Westchester County Court Judge Barbara Zambelli in White Plains.

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