D.C. police have arrested a volunteer worker at Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's presidential campaign headquarters here and charged her with embezzling $875 in campaign contributions.
June Beth Gittelson, 37, was arrested Sunday in her apartment at 510 N St. SW on a warrent charging her with depositing several campaign contribution checks in her personal bank account last January.
Police alleged that Gittelson did this by intercepting the checks and adding her own name as a payee on them. Detectives traced the checks to Gittelson after the checks were returned to their original banks in Pittsburgh and other cities, police said.
In an interview yesterday Arthur Chotin, deputy finance director of the Kennedy for President Committee at 1250 22nd St. NW, said Gittelson was one of about a dozen volunteers and paid staff workers who had access to the committee's fund-raising office.
He described her as an "almost full-time volunteer. . . . She was reliable. She came almost every day." He said her jobs included "answering phones, taking messages and doing light typing."
Under strict financial procedures, Chotin said, persons raising funds for Kennedy around the country periodically send in packages of campaign contribution checks from their respective areas. The fund-raisers always alert campaign headquarters in advance and provide a master list of the checks and amounts before they arrive, he said.
In January, Chotin said, a package of incoming checks was intercepted and several checks removed. Police were called in and began investigating.
Working with the list of staffers who had access to the fund-raising office and the master list of checks from the tampered package, police said they narrowed their suspects to Gittelson.
The missing checks, now canceled, were traced through their original banks in the Pittsburgh area, police said. There, they found Gittelson's name had been typed on the checks as an "alternative payee' so that they read "Pay to the order of the Kennedy for President Committee or June Beth Gittelson," according to police.
This enabled her to deposit the checks in her personal bank account here, police said.
Gittelson could not be reached yesterday for comment. After her arrest Sunday, she was released on personal bond. A preliminary hearing on the embezzlement charge is scheduled Friday in D.C. Superior Court.