Cindy Greatrex pleads guilty to grand theft: La Jollan must pay back $68K to Rec Center

La Jolla resident and civic volunteer Cindy Greatrex pleaded guilty to grand theft and great takings (which carries additional penalties) in San Diego Superior Court Dec. 17, in the charge of stealing more than $67,000 from La Jolla Recreation Center funds.

Her legal representation and San Diego County District Attorney Gina Darvas negotiated a deal in the case, ordering Greatrex to pay full restitution totaling $68,272 to the La Jolla Park & Recreation 501(c)(3) board by her sentencing date of Jan. 29, 2019; serve 180 days home detention with a GPS-monitored bracelet; step down from any boards on which she is a trustee (she is currently a trustee on the La Jolla Community Planning Association and president of Independent La Jolla); and serve four years of probation.

Greatrex’s deal is contingent on paying the full amount at the time of sentencing, Darvas told La Jolla Light. “We were getting down to the nitty gritty and the facts were there to prove her guilt,” she said.

According to charges in The People vs. Cindy Greatrex, filed in 2017, Greatrex made out checks from La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. board payable to herself — or cash — and cashed them into her personal accounts. The thefts took place between May 2016 and February 2017, according to court documents. Greatrex was president of the La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. board in 2015, but stepped down in 2017, citing conflicts with other board members.

Throughout court proceedings, Greatrex maintained her innocence and claimed the missing funds were used to reimburse herself for purchasing grant-writing fees “over a long period of time” on behalf of the Rec Center in her role as chair of the La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. board.

A three-day preliminary hearing was held in November 2017, at which time a key issue was determining the existence and legitimacy of the firm with which Greatrex said she entered into a contract with and paid to write grants: American Field Consulting (AFC), and its representative Jon Freeman. AFC is reportedly based in Chicago.

Greatrex maintained she gave more than $40,000 in cash to Freeman for these services over the course of a year (the remaining funds she is accused of stealing were reimbursements to herself for miscellaneous payments she made for services to the Rec Center).

After the charges were filed, Greatrex changed attorneys four times. During the preliminary hearing, Paul Neuharth represented Greatrex. But a month later, at her arraignment, Greatrex was being represented by John Kirby. Six months later, Greatrex was being represented by a third attorney, Sharon Appelbaum.

In August, Earll Pott was her attorney. Her most recent attorney was Mike Pancer. With the retention of each new attorney, Greatrex’s trial date was postponed.

For most of the proceedings, Chandelle Konstanzer represented The People; but recently, Darvas assumed the role.

After the plea was entered, Mary Coakley-Munk, who was chair of La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. board for the last year-and-a-half, simply told La Jolla Light: “The board is very pleased to have the issue resolved.”

Greatrex did not respond to the Light’s request for comment.

Copyright © 2019, La Jolla Light, © 2019, The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. All rights reserved.
59°