Former CEO Charged With Stealing From $34k From Goodwill

By: Jason Aubry Email
By: Jason Aubry Email

Debra Diaz, former president and CEO of Pueblo Goodwill Industries has formally been arrested in connection with a year-long investigation into allegations she stole thousands of dollars from the company.

An arrest affidavit was filed on May 13, 2010. Pueblo Police Detective Lee Karr details the evidence gathered against Diaz. It includes:

- 15 bank deposit bags found hidden in her desk and around her office. One bag was found in the bottom right hand drawer of her desk, seven more in the bottom left hand drawer, and another seven stashed in a white carrying bag on top of the credenza behind her desk. The bags were dated between August 1, 2008 and January 4, 2009, and all totalled the bags were missing $14,675.37.

- Use of the company credit card at the Marriott Hotel in Newport Beach, CA totalling $1,020.05.

- Use of the company credit card several times in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico totalling $1,037.33.

- Company funds were used in payments to Otero County Clerk, Loaf & Jug, Pueblo County Clerk, airline tickets, a dentist office, car washes, Alltel cell phone for her son Carlos Diaz, Pueblo Community College, and others to the tune of $17,830.29.

Pueblo Community College records show several payments totalling $433.61 were made from Pueblo Goodwill's credit card for Alycia Trujillo, Diaz's daughter. One of the payments was signed, "D. Gallardo for Debi Diaz". Gallardo is a PCC employee who takes payment over the phone.

Alltel Corporation records show the account for Diaz's son, Carlos Lopez, had $1895.81 in payments from Pueblo Goodwill's Sunflower Bank account.

All together, Diaz is suspected of spending $34,563.04 of Pueblo Goodwill funds.

According to the court document, Diaz's Administrative Assistant Stephanie Bueno, 22, claims the store always seemed busy, that she didn't know where the money was going, and couldn't understand how there was no money for payroll.

Other employees interviewed by police tell the same story of bounced payroll checks despite a seemingly busy store. Several noted that Debra, Alycia and Stephanie would frequently go out to eat lunch, and that Debi was always buying things with cash. Another employee told police that Diaz reported raising $12,000 total at the Pines of Presents fundraising event in December 2008; but after he calculated the amount brought in by the sale of the trees alone, it was well over that amount, and estimated it to be closer to $23,000. Right after the Pines for Presents event, the organization purchased $14,000 in toys from Walmart for the Toys for Tots program. Walmart reported a $10,000 check bounced.

Another employee, Janelle Quick, reported frivolous spending by Diaz. In 2007 they went to Las Vegas for a Goodwill Executive conferance. Janelle says, "they lived like royalty, eating the best food."

According to the current president and CEO of Pueblo Goodwill Industries, David Skul, after Diaz was fired the company was financially insolvent, on the precipice of bankruptcy. With nearly $340,000 in debts, the non-profit has worked to reduce their red ink to just about $60,000, today.

Because of the scandal, former President of the Board of Directors for Pueblo Goodwill Industries, Andrew McLachlan was forced to resign his position to avoid any conflict of interest during the investigation due to his employment as a Deputy Chief for the Pueblo Police Department.

David Skul says, it was brazen for Diaz to try and steal from under the nose of the Deputy Chief, and can't understand what she was thinking. Skul says, Diaz lied to the Board of Directors and that they only found out about her alleged practices after they hired an independent accountant to check the companies books. It was McLachlan and Skul (who was Vice President of the Board at the time) who searched Diaz's office, found and inventoried the bank deposit bags.

Diaz was arrested and has since posted bail. She is expected to be in Pueblo District Court this month.


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