Former Visit Philadelphia CFO charged with theft, embezzlement

A woman who worked for a Philadelphia tourism organization has been charged with theft, receiving stolen property, forgery and fraud, District Attorney Seth Williams announced Wednesday morning.

Joyce Levitt, 62, former chief financial officer of Visit Philadelphia, is accused of embezzling $200,000 from Visit Philadelphia –money she spent on expensive furs and fancy restaurants –while she worked there from 2005 through 2012.

“Visit Philadelphia let Joyce Levitt watch the ledger books and $200,000 of the agency’s money charged out the door,” Philadelphia DA Seth Williams said in a news release.

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“Thank you to the men and women of my Economic and Cyber Crime Unit and the investigating grand jury who, like me, are disgusted by Joyce Levitt’s embezzlement of money that was meant to benefit the people and city of Philadelphia — and not her lifestyle.”

Visit Philadelphia was formerly known as the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, a nonprofit organization promoting leisure and travel to the five-county Philadelphia region.

It was created in 1996 by the city, commonwealth and Pew Charitable Trusts and its primary funding comes from the city’s hotel tax.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Levitt was hired in 2003 and worked her way up the chain of command to become to organization’s CFO two years later. She became privy to the organization’s cash flow in September 2005 and was exposed when an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer outed her in 2014.

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Williams said Levitt’s embezzlement occurred from September 2005 through February 2012 and once the DA’s office was made aware, he initiated a grand jury investigation. The investigation revealed that Levitt allegedly embezzled $118,806 by charging personal expenses to her corporate credit card and used Visit Philadelphia’s corporate checks to pay for her personal Visa card bills. During the time period of June 2007 through April 2011, Levitt wrote 20 checks totaling $83,632. She was able to write these checks to Visa with a signature stamp used without permission.

Williams said Levitt turned herself in Wednesday and will appear in court once a date is set for a preliminary hearing.

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