ITHACA, N.Y. — A man who stole about $6,500 from the Latino Civic Association while he was president, did so after deeming himself eligible for a new paid job title, court records show.

[do_widget id= text-55 ]

Micah Martorell, 35, allegedly appointed himself executive director of the LAC and began paying himself  for the job with LAC funds. The records show that he did so without the approval of the organization’s board.

He was charged yesterday with felony third-degree grand larceny for stealing $6,425.75 from the organization over a period of three months.

Micah Martorell

The court documents detailed the following narrative:

In late May, the Latino Civic Association treasurer, Fernando A. de Aragon, said he noticed the password for the organization’s bank account had been change. This left him without access to the funds.

He tried to contact Martorell about the incident, but after several phone calls and emails, was not able to arrange a meeting with him because of scheduling conflicts. The meeting was also supposed to address the president’s use of the account for petty cash purchases.

Martorell was the only person, other than de Aragon, with means to withdraw the money from the account.

On July 7, de Aragon reached out to Alternatives Federal Credit Union — where Martorell worked — about the organization’s account.

He told branch manager, Rachel Minkley, about his concerns with the account and, together, were able to pinpoint unauthorized withdrawals made by Martorell and never replaced in full.

Martorell’s authorization to use the account was terminated .

After several attempts to contact Martorell and with the approval of the LAC board, de Aragon contacted the police.

De Aragon said in a police report that the LAC  board never authorized  appointment or payment for an executive director.

In an email attached to court records, Martorell wrote, “The withdrawals that were made were payments to me as an executive director for the LAC. As the president, I have the power to appoint employees for the organization…Because of our small organization, I started taking this out in May at small amounts  over time.”

He goes on to say that he and his family are suffering hardships and do not always have enough money to eat regularly or pay bills.

“This organization was established to help Latinos and, I would think, especially Latinos in need. It is sad but true that the president of this organization is a Latino in need,” he wrote.

In a subsequent email, he said he was “desperate” and that he’d been fired from his job. He also offered to pay back the money.

In a news release Wednesday, interim President of the LCA Board, Carlos Gutierrez, said, “It is deeply disappointing to learn that a steward of these resources, and a person we trusted, allegedly put his personal interests ahead of those of the LCA members and its donors, who support and rely on the Association.”

He said changes are being made within the organization to prevent theft from happening again in the future.

[do_widget id= text-61 ]

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.