Eunice Kennedy Shriver's former personal secretary has been arrested and charged with transporting a forged $1,500 check in connection with what law enforcement officials alleged was the secretary's use of Shriver's charge and bank accounts to obtain a mink coat, diamond jewelry, crystal, cash and other items valued at a total of $90,000.
The 34-year-old secretary, Pamela Jo (Lucy) Luna, was arrested Monday in Ocean City after being charged with transportation of a forged document in interstate commerce. She was released on a $40,000 bond.
At a bond hearing yesterday in Washington, a federal magistrate ordered Luna to appear Aug. 12 for a preliminary hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Noel Kramer told the magistrate that the $1,500 check charge was the "tip of the iceberg." Luna worked for Shriver at the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation from October 1981 to last January.
Marc Zell, an attorney for Shriver, said Shriver "personally discovered discrepancies" in her accounts after Luna stopped working for her. He said Shriver notified officials at Riggs National Bank, who then called the FBI.
At the hearing, Kramer said Luna is currently on probation after pleading guilty to a charge of embezzlement from a former employer in Alabama. Kramer also said that Luna was fired last week from her most recent job with a lobbyist here in Washington after the lobbyist discovered possible forgeries of several thousand dollars of his checks. No charges have been filed against Luna in connection with those allegations.
Luna entered no plea and declined comment afterward, as did her attorney, Thomas Abbenante.
FBI agent Kathleen Snyder, in an affidavit filed with a federal magistrate in Upper Marlboro, alleged that Luna, who lives in Silver Spring, forged $39,000 in checks on Shriver's accounts between January 1982 and March 1983 and used the money to pay for her car, apartment and items such as a gold and diamond necklace and matching earrings worth $2,544.
In addition, Snyder said Luna allegedly used Shriver's American Express card and Shriver's accounts at Sears, Garfinckel's and Saks Fifth Avenue "innumerable" times without permission to purchase about $40,000 in furniture and clothing, including a "natural pastel mink coat" valued at $5,593 at Rosendorf-Evans fur store.
Luna earned between $17,000 and $18,367 while she worked for the foundation, which sponsors research in mental health and retardation. Shriver is the executive vice president of the organization.
Snyder said in her affidavit that Riggs National Bank officials contacted the FBI on March 18 to report that a "number of checks" written on an account maintained by Shriver and her husband Sargent, 1972 Democratic candidate for vice president, were "suspected forgeries."
Snyder said Luna's job was to keep track of Eunice Shriver's personal expenses and charge accounts and to prepare checks for payment for Shriver's signature. Shriver told the FBI that Luna had no authority to sign checks on her own or to use the charge accounts, Snyder said in the affidavit. graphics/photo: Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who first learned of discrepancies.