A woman accused of embezzling from two high-profile local nonprofit organizations she worked for will face a jury trial in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Sept. 6, more than two years after the alleged grand theft was reported to police.
Morgan Rafferty, 48, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she embezzled from both Mothers for Peace and the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo, commonly called ECOSLO. The former is an anti-nuclear group, the latter an environmental activist organization.
According to police reports from Arroyo Grande, where Rafferty lived, board members from Mothers for Peace told investigator Dan Langstaff on July 30, 2009, that they “started having problems with bills from about mid-April through July of 2009.”
Rafferty had been the group’s treasurer since 2003. When they asked her to explain, according to the police report, she “repeatedly made excuses and would not provide (records and receipts).”
When the organization finally did get its hands on some information, including bank statements, it “found some very obvious fraudulent payments, in addition to a number of other suspicious transactions,” according to the police report.
Rafferty also was executive director and bookkeeper for ECOSLO, and Langstaff “suggested they audit or at least review their books.”
ECOSLO did and found its own alleged irregularities, including an “unauthorized pay raise that Rafferty gave herself in 2008,” according to a report by San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office investigator A.J. Santana.
Santana recommended that criminal charges of grand theft and embezzlement be filed. The District Attorney’s Office later combined the two cases.
Rafferty allegedly embezzled $31,000 from Mothers for Peace and “about the same amount” from ECOSLO, according to Dr. Clint Slaughter, who sits on ECOSLO’s board of directors.
Rafferty could not be reached for comment. Her attorney did not return phone calls.She told The Tribune last year, “I’m innocent. I will just have to trust the judicial system to work this out.”