A New Orleans woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing from a federally funded educational grant program over three years ending in 2012.
Kim Cassell, 52, who was executive director of Open World Services Inc., pleaded guilty to a count of theft from a program receiving federal funds.
In a “factual basis” supporting her plea, Cassell admitted she falsified invoices and other documents and spent money earmarked for children on personal travel, veterinary care for a family pet and “to benefit friends and relatives.”
All told, she admitted stealing some $150,000.
Cantrell admitted using money from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant to buy phone cards, MoneyGrams, homeowner’s insurance and trips to Minnesota and Liberia.
Cassell formed Open World as a nonprofit agency in 2003. The organization, with a stated aim of helping students in New Orleans grow academically, collected about $1.3 million over the three years ending when Cassell dissolved the agency voluntarily in 2012.
The federal grant program was administered through the Louisiana Department of Education.
U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite credited the state agency, the FBI and the state legislative auditor with the investigation.
Cassell signed the plea deal on March 12.
She faces a maximum 10-year prison term, a maximum $250,000 fine and restitution. U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle set an Aug. 19 sentencing date.