Former Appalachian Children's Chorus executive director pleads guilty for embezzlement

Jacqueline Holly Portillo pleaded guilty Monday to four felony charges of embezzlement with the Appalachian Children's Chorus. (WCHS/WVAH File Photo)

The former executive director of Appalachian Children’s Chorus pleaded guilty Monday to embezzlement.

Jacqueline Holly Portillo, 51 of Hurricane pleaded guilty to four felony charges of embezzlement with the Appalachian Children’s Chorus, Inc., a news release from Prosecuting Attorney Charles Miller’s office said. Portillo was employed by the chorus, a nonprofit music organization for children, from March 2010 through August 2017. The Chorus is partially funded by the state through the former Division of Culture and History.

During her time of employment with the chorus, Portillo used the organization’s credit cards and bank accounts to embezzle $97,514.42, the release said. Portillo concealed her embezzlement by submitting falsified bank statements to the chorus’ accountants.

The release said the extent of her embezzlement was uncovered after she involuntarily left employment with the Appalachian Children’s Chorus.

An investigation reveals the stolen funds were used by Portillo for veterinary treatment and training for her dogs, personal purchases for herself and family members and personal travel and hotel stays, the release said.

“It is terrible that somebody can steal from programs designed to help and educate children in this state without regard for the consequences of the theft,” Miller said in the release.

The total loss suffered by the organization is more than $101,700, the release said. Miller said the loss has placed the chorus at risk and he hopes it can continue its operations.

The state recommended Portillo be sentenced to an indeterminate term between one and 10 years. Sentencing is set for July 30.

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