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Former IT worker accused of stealing nearly a million dollars from the Heinz Endowments

Former IT worker accused of stealing money from Heinz Endowments
Former IT worker accused of stealing money from Heinz Endowments 01:59

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A former employee with the Heinz Endowment is accused of embezzling about $1 million from the philanthropic organization. 

Now the group has filed a federal civil case against the man.

The 15-page complaint against Charles A. Richardson says he started with the foundation in 2014. He worked on developing, implementing, and managing technology. 

Between 2016 and 2023, he allegedly took $960,000 from the organization for IT services it never received. Once Richardson realized he was being investigated, he was accused of deleting more than 1,000 emails to try and hide his tracks.

Prosecutors also said he sold the foundation's servers, with the payments going to his company. 

"There is a paper trail. You cannot embezzle without there not being a trail," lawyer Phil DiLucente said.

DiLucente, while not involved in this case, has represented victims of embezzlement, including the largest case in state history. He said civil and criminal cases usually follow these situations. It can be dependent on the organization's insurance company at times.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Heinz Endowments said:

"We are deeply saddened that the actions of a former employee have caused us to file a federal lawsuit and to engage law enforcement. The allegations centering on fraud in the legal complaint reflect conduct that is unimaginable for someone who had been a trusted colleague for many years."

It said no core financial, human resource or grantee record systems have been impacted.

According to DiLucente, a civil case is to try and reclaim losses.

"It's for recovery. Recovery to place that party back in the same shoes that they were before the alleged embezzlement occurred," DiLucente said.

It also has a lower threshold than a criminal case.

"It's not clear and convincing, which is a higher standard, and it's not beyond a reasonable doubt. Is it more likely than not that this had occurred," DiLucente said.

The lawsuit says Richardson started a leave of absence in October 2023. The endowment started its investigation in December, and Richardson was fired shortly after the start of 2024. 

KDKA-TV reached out to Richardson for comment but has not heard back.

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