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Former Red Cross employee begins jail term for theft

By Nelson Daranciang

LAST UPDATED: 11:46 a.m. HST, Feb 27, 2013

A former American Red Cross, Hawaii chapter employee started serving a six month jail term this morning for stealing nearly $52,000 from the disaster relief organization.

A state judge today sentenced Kathleen Mary Caneda, 62, to five years of probation for first-degree theft and ordered her to spend the first six months of her sentence behind bars.

Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario also ordered Caneda to perform 100 hours of community service and to repay the Red Cross $51,846 at a rate of $250 per month.

Prosecutor Scott Bell had asked Del Rosario to send Caneda to prison for 10 years and order her to repay the money she stole at a rate of at least $500 per month. He said Caneda has been living with her daughter and collects $1,500 per month in Social Security and pension.

The state says Caneda forged 145 checks from July 8, 2004, to Jan. 5, 2012, making them payable to herself.

Red Cross Hawaii Chief Executive Officer Coralie Matayoshi said Caneda was working as an accounts payable clerk at the time.

According to her presentence report, Caneda covered her tracks by making false entries into the organization’s books indicating that the money was paid to non-existent venders she created, Del 

Rosario said.

The state says most of the checks were in amounts under $500, which could be endorsed with machine-generated signatures. Checks of $500 or more needed to be co-signed by Matayoshi.

Another Red Cross employee noticed that the checks didn’t match the book entries, triggering an audit. Matayoshi said the organization then turned the case over to police.

Caneda apologized in court to Matayoshi, the Red Cross and to her family.

Her lawyer Lee Hayakawa said when police confronted Caneda, she immediately confessed to the detective and to Matayoshi. He said Caneda spent the money on necessities, not luxuries.

Matayoshi said local Red Cross chapters no longer have positions for accounts payable clerks because the national organization has taken over the job of paying vendors.

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Ex-employee gets jail for Red Cross thefts

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allie wrote:
on February 27,2013 | 10:35AM
sailfish1 wrote:
The sentence is too light! The sentence should have been what the prosecutor asked for - 10 years in jail and repayment at 500 dollars per month. At 250 dollars per month, the money (without interest) won't be repaid in over 17 years! The thief will be 79 years old by then if she is still living. If interest was charged, at 250 dollars per month, she would never repay the money! What is wrong with Hawaii judges?
on February 27,2013 | 11:19AM
iwanaknow wrote:
Do the math. At $250/month it will take her more than 17 years to pay off this debt!..................will she even be around at age 79? Hope she has great genes and lives to 100.
on February 27,2013 | 11:25AM
NotNasti wrote:
All defendants are required to sign a freestanding order of restitution. The restitution order is a civil promissory note that extends beyond the court's jurisdiction. What's wrong with Hawaii's judges? You cannot put everyone convicted of a crime in jail. California is nearly bankrupt because of the crushing cost of its prison system. They are releasing inmates in droves. It costs $55,000/yr. to incarcerate a single inmate. So if you put this woman in jail, you have to release someone else. Would you prefer a more dangerous felon with a drug habit? Stealing is bad, for sure. But when you compare her with the other defendants coming before this judge, she is tame in comparison. No prior record. No substance abuse problem. No violent history. If it were up to you, how would you determine who got jail and who got probation?
on February 27,2013 | 11:57AM
Shawn211 wrote:
That's why I stop giving my money to these organization. If these organization can't be more deilgent in their recording keeping and our court system here in our state don't hold these people accountable why would I trust them with my money again? I mean she stoled $52k and she only serves 5 months?
on February 27,2013 | 12:14PM
paradiddle wrote:
She stole an average of $540 per month. Agree with minimum jail term as no real danger to society
on February 27,2013 | 02:12PM
paradiddle wrote:
She stole an average of $540 per month. She should have to repay at same amount or at least the $500 that was proposed. Have to agree with mimum jail time as she does not represent violent danger to community and costs of jail time makes poor fiscal sense.
on February 27,2013 | 02:16PM
Rickyboy wrote:
She spent it on necessities and admitted guilt when confronted. Rewarded for theft. Her daughter should be investigated also.
on February 27,2013 | 05:44PM
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