The founder of a now-defunct Pennsylvania horse rescue pleaded guilty last week to two federal charges including mail fraud.
Pamela Vivirito, formerly of Valencia, also pleaded guilty to filing a fraudulent non-profit tax return with the IRS. She reported donations of $46,877 in 2013. Court documents state Equine Angels Rescue actually received $93,606.
Vivirito collected funds earmarked to help rehabilitate rescue horses although she used thousands of dollars of the non-profit’s funds for herself.
Prosecutors initially filed an interference with commerce by extortion charge against Vivirito in 2015. They accused her of threatening to expose her affair with a married man in order to extort property from him.
The prosecution added additional charges a year later in a superseding indictment. As a part of Vivirito’s plea deal, the prosecution is dropping the remaining charges, including two counts of extortion.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ordered Equine Angels Rescue and Vivirito to cease and desist from soliciting contributions in February 2016.
Vivirito faces up to 23 years in prison, fines of up to $500,000, and restitution. A judge will sentence her on July 20.