The head of a Florida-based charity misappropriated money that was meant to buy cradles for stillborn babies to help grieving families, authorities said Thursday.
Lori Marie Esteve, 53, was arrested earlier this week in Lakeland and charged with scheming to defraud and three other felonies, according to a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services news release.
“The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has zero tolerance for sham charities perpetrating fraud against its donors,” Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement. “Stealing the money of parents grieving the loss of a child is a vile and appalling act.”
Esteve serves as president and director of Stories of Babies Born Still. SOBBS was supposed to use donations to purchase Comfort Cradle Devices for hospitals, investigators said. Investigators found that deposits and full payments had been given to SOBBS, but the manufacturer hadn’t received payment for about half the orders.
Esteve was free on $8,000 bond. Jail records didn’t list an attorney.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.