Volunteer pleads guilty in Toys for Tots theft

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Carol Lisciandrello pleaded guilty to embezzling approximately $25,000 from the charity Toys for Tots.

Last month, a judge found her mentally fit to plead guilty to felony theft. On Thursday, she entered the guilty plea and apologized for actions she said she could not control.

"She thought she was having problems with menopause when apparently she was having problems with mental illness," defense attorney Patrick O'Byrne said.

O'Byrne told the court his client suffered from mental illness, which led her to take at least $25,000 in proceeds from sales of Toys for Tots merchandise. Lisciandrello took the money while working as a volunteer for the Chicago organization, which holds a yearly motorcycle parade to make sure needy children get a toy at Christmas. Volunteers sell T-shirts and other items to buy the toys.

The judge wasn't swayed by her attorney's argument and sentenced Lisciandrello to 24 months of probation. The money was returned with restitution.

"I'm very happy we got our money back. We gotta thank the people of Chicago for helping us back in 2011. They stepped up to the plate and helped make a lot of donations to help that happen," Toys for Tot President Lester Fortier said.

Fortier said the charity made changes to how it oversees finances to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Lisciandrello's husband is the former vice president for Toys for Tots.
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