Office Employee of Pittsburgh-Area Legal Aid Group Pleads Guilty

Cheri Logue had a lot of unpaid credit card and other bills. To pay them off, she stole from the law firm at which she worked. Logue, a secretary-bookkeeper for Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services Inc. (SPLS), pleaded guilty in Pittsburgh federal court on Tuesday, April 27 to embezzling slightly over $188,000 over about three years from the federally-funded law group based in Washington, Pa. She faces sentencing on August 27. A member of the SPLS board of directors, Chris Blackwell, said that she has paid back all of the money, a fact that might keep her out of prison.

Logue, 41, a resident of Claysville, Pa. (west of Pittsburgh near the West Virginia border), was employed at the Legal Services Corp.-affiliated anti-poverty law clinic during October 2001-June 2008. Prosecutors had charged that over the last three years of this period, she wrote 86 checks to herself totaling about $90,000 and then recorded them in SPLS books as payments to suppliers. In addition, she made more than 300 unauthorized charges to her SPLS credit card of around $72,000. Were that not enough, she processed 25 unauthorized electronic fund transfers to pay more than $14,000 in personal bills. Finally, she used the legal group’s ATM card to make 56 unauthorized withdrawals from business accounts totaling more than $12,000, typically at or near gambling locations. Grand total: $188,000.

Logue was fired from her position in June 2008 following growing suspicions that she was responsible for the missing funds. A subsequent audit covering the entire period during which was employed confirmed those suspicions. “No services were affected,” noted SPLS’s Blackwell.