Former Exponent Business Manager Pleads Guilty to $1.44M Fraud


Former Jewish Exponent Director of Business Operations Cheryl Lutts pleaded guilty in federal court on June 28 to 24 counts of wire and mail fraud involving both the Exponent and subsequent employer the Philly Pops, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Lutts, 43, of Philadelphia, admitted that she used the stolen money to pay off thousands of dollars in credit card debts associated with travel and lodging, legal services, and funeral costs, as well as things such as utility bills and her cellphone.

Lutts, who will be sentenced in October, faces a maximum punishment on each count of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and a $100 special assessment.

The Inquirer reported that Lutts didn’t explain in court what prompted the embezzlements, but her attorney, Maranna J. Meehan, said Lutts was undergoing outpatient treatment for opioid addiction.

Prosecutors said Lutts siphoned about $1.19 million from the Exponent between 2016 and 2019, as well as about $255,000 from The Philly Pops, where she worked as controller after being fired from the Exponent in August 2019.

Lutts, who was an Exponent employee for 18 years, was fired for poor performance before the fraud was discovered. Her replacement found a fabricated bank statement in Lutts’ desk drawer on his first day on the job.

She concealed her actions with doctored bank statements and also secretly took out a corporate credit card in her name.

The Exponent and Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which owned the paper at the time, consulted first with Frank Riehl, the latter’s director of security, and then the Philadelphia Police Department before calling in the FBI.

After Lutts was fired by the Exponent, she began working as the controller for the Philly Pops. The Inquirer reported that a Pops spokesperson said the organization fired her after discovering “questionable transactions.”

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