Statement on the Termination of Director of Finance
San Diego, CA — La Jolla Music Society has terminated the employment of Chris Benavides, its director of finance, following the discovery that the employee diverted La Jolla Music Society funds for his personal use. The payments were discovered during a financial review by the chair of La Jolla Music Society’s finance committee. The employee subsequently admitted to diverting the funds. Although the investigation is ongoing, La Jolla Music Society currently estimates the loss to be approximately $113,000 and will endeavor to recover all diverted funds.
“Although this discovery is a shocking breach of trust, the temporary loss of funds will not affect La Jolla Music Society in any material way. The organization is strong financially, has no accumulated debt and has fully covered the construction costs of The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, which was completed in 2019,” said Todd R. Schultz, La Jolla Music Society president & CEO.
La Jolla Music Society filed a report with the San Diego Police Department. La Jolla Music Society will consider future civil or criminal action upon the completion of the forensic audit and determination of the final amount of diverted funds.
La Jolla Music Society remains well equipped to continue implementing its artistic and education programs throughout 2021, thanks to a distinguished and committed board of directors, as well as a depth of veteran talent in all areas of the organization. Existing staff, with the support of the outside auditors, will manage the financial operation in the interim while interviews for a new director of finance are conducted. Since something of this nature previously seemed inconceivable, there is also an ongoing full review to revisit and modify as needed all existing procedures, internal controls, and approval processes.
State and federal guidelines will require La Jolla Music Society, as a non-profit that receives public funding, to report this activity.