It’s the kind of story that makes you lose a little bit of faith in humanity.

On Friday, a Staten Island woman pleaded guilty to stealing $406,000 from a charity for slain NYPD officers.

She stammered her way through he plea in court, saying:

“I wrote these checks, I think two of them or whatever, and it was considered fraud.”

Now 69-year-old Lorraine Shanley faces more than two years in prison according to federal guidelines.

She admitted in court that while serving as volunteer PR director for Survivors of the Shield, she secretly took money from the charity to spend on her special needs grandchild.

“I’ve had family issues. Hardship,” she said.

She believed that it was ok because of why she was doing it.

“It wasn’t for a new car, a new home. It was for my special needs grandchild.”

Shaley accepted a plea deal, which included a promise to repay the money she stole and pay the IRS $103,983.

Federal prosecutors in New York charged her with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Prosecutors say she was stealing more than 20 percent of donations to the charity between at least 2010 and 2017.

And to make matters worse, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said that Shanley spent the money on a mix of personal expenses… $32,000 for personal dental expenses, $25,000 for landscaping, and $29,000 for her grandchild’s private school tuition, to name a few.

“You knew it was wrong. You knew it was illegal. You felt it was justified because of your special needs grandchild?” Judge Sidney Stein asked in Manhattan Federal Court.

“Yes,” Shanley replied.

“There was a major part of these checks to help my children. As a widow I thought I could do it. They said no,” Shanley said.

That’s not all.  She’s also accused of using at least $63,000 of the stolen money to pay for her son’s legal expenses related to criminal cases, according to prosecutors.

Records show her son did three years in prison on drug charges from 2006 to 2009.  In 2014, he was also charged with second-degree manslaughter and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting.  Authorities said it resulted in death after he crashed his SUV in Manhattan, killing an activist, and then fled.  For some reason the manslaughter charges were later dropped.

Prosecutors say Shaley also wrote $45,000 in checks to family members and other people, but then endorsed them herself and deposited them into her own bank account.  On top of that, they say the Staten Island woman used $8,000 on a combination of Barbra Streisand and other event tickets.

The whole scheme fell apart when a new volunteer joined the organization and dove deep into the charity’s tax returns and records.

Court documents show that 99 percent of the donations to Survivors of the Shield come straight from New York police officers. On average, about 5,500 NYPD employees donate to the charity annually.

“As she admitted today, Lorraine Shanley exploited the NYPD officers and employees who generously made charitable donations to support the survivors of fallen officers,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.

Officer Thomas Shanley, the suspect’s husband, died of a heart attack while on duty in 1986.  She also serves on the board of The New York City Police Museum, which has nothing to do with the NYPD and is currently closed while it relocates.

“Lorraine Shanley violated her position of trust at a charity and victimized families who have already sacrificed so much,” said Jonathan D. Larsen, the acting head of the IRS’ criminal investigation division.

If convicted, Shanley faced up to 30 years in prison.  Under the plea deal, she’ll face two years of mandatory prison time for the aggravated identity theft charge by itself.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Phillip Walzak said of the accusations:

“If true, these allegations constitute deep violation of the trust of those who generously donate to help police families going through heartbreaking tragedy.”

Author Note: While there are a tremendous amount of good people and incredible 501c3’s in America, Law Enforcement Today is proud to support Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) as our “charity of choice” for supporting the survivors of fallen officers.  We hope you’ll consider doing the same.

Here’s what they are all about:

Each year, between 140 and 160 officers are killed in the line of duty and their families and co-workers are left to cope with the tragic loss.  C.O.P.S. provides resources to help them rebuild their shattered lives.  There is no membership fee to join C.O.P.S., for the price paid is already too high.

C.O.P.S. was organized in 1984 with 110 individual members.  Today, C.O.P.S. membership is over 48,000 survivors.  Survivors include spouses, children, parents, siblings, significant others, and co-workers of officers who have died in the line of duty according to Federal government criteria.  C.O.P.S. is governed by a national board of law enforcement survivors.  All programs and services are administered by the National Office in Camdenton, Missouri.  C.O.P.S. has over 50 Chapters nationwide that work with survivors at the grass-roots level.

C.O.P.S. programs for survivors include the National Police Survivors’ Conference held each May during National Police Week, scholarships, peer-support at the national, state, and local levels, “C.O.P.S. Kids” counseling reimbursement program, the “C.O.P.S. Kids” Summer Camp, “C.O.P.S. Teens” Outward Bound Adventure for young adults, special retreats for spouses, parents, siblings, adult children, extended family, and co-workers, trial and parole support, and other assistance programs.

police week

Concerns of Police Survivors. (Photo courtesy Cathy and Javier Bustos)

C.O.P.S. knows that a survivor’s level of distress is directly affected by the agency’s response to the tragedy.  C.O.P.S., therefore, offers training and assistance to law enforcement agencies nationwide on how to respond to the tragic loss of a member of the law enforcement profession.  C.O.P.S. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  C.O.P.S. programs and services are funded by grants and donations.