Secretary of Ohio Principal Stricken with Cancer Accused of Stealing $30K in Fundraising Money Before He Died

Stacie LaRiccia has been arrested on a theft charge following the death of her boss, Michael Fording

<p>Lyndhurst Police Department</p> Stacy LaRiccia

Lyndhurst Police Department

Stacy LaRiccia

An Ohio woman is facing charges on accusations she stole the funds that she raised on behalf of her ailing boss to donate to cancer research, according to authorities.

Michael Fording, who was the principal at a Lyndhurst, Ohio, high school, died in November, according to an online obituary.

Stacie LaRiccia, his long-time secretary, allegedly started a fundraiser before his death, saying that he was suffering from colon cancer and claiming that the funds would go to his family as well as towards colon cancer research.

But none of the intended targets received the funds, authorities say, News 5 Cleveland, WKYC and FOX 8 reported.

LaRiccia was arrested on March 15 and charged with theft by deception, per WKYC.

The fundraiser was pegged to a 5K race in October, per the race's website, with the aim to donate to "colon cancer research, as well as the family of Michael Fording, Principal of Charles F. Brush High School, who is currently battling colon cancer."

The fundraiser reportedly raised between $30,000 and $40,000, per News 5 Cleveland and WKYC, but police allege LaRiccia never donated the money.

In January, police were told of the alleged fraud after Fording's family learned that the funds that were raised had not been forwarded to the hospital that was slated to receive it, authorities said, according to WKYC.

“They found out no donation was ever made,” a Lyndhurst Police official said, according to News 5 Cleveland.

During an ensuing investigation, police say they dug through her financial records and learned that LaRiccia had allegedly used the money to buy food and for entertainment purposes, according to the outlet.

Police have said they are "looking to some possibility that there were other people involved,” according to News 5 Cleveland.

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In his online obituary, Fording is remembered as a father to four girls, who he loved "greater than he ever imagined possible.”

“Mike showed incredible courage facing life challenges with a smile, a few choice words, and his usual goofy jokes,” reads the obituary. “Despite the pain, Mike stayed strong and positive until the end.”

LaRiccia posted a $25,000 bond and is expected to be in court this week. It's not immediately clear if she has retained an attorney or entered a plea.

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