Former nonprofit leader sentenced for $1 million theft
Mary Holden Ayala, head of the nonprofit Give Us This Day, was sentenced Friday, June 21, to nearly three years in federal prison for stealing more than $1 million from state and federal foster care programs.
U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez ordered Ayala, 59, to spend three years on supervised release and she must pay $239,192 in restitution to the IRS and $1.1 million to satisfy a forfeiture money judgment. The court also forfeited more than $451,000 in proceeds from the sale of Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard commercial property that Ayala bought with stolen funds.
Ayala was found guilty in February on five counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, two counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property and seven counts of filing a false federal tax return. The jury agreed with prosecutors that from 2008 to 2015, Ayala stole money from both federal and state agencies that work with foster children.
Give Us This Day began in 1979 as a nonprofit helping foster children. The organization was funded by state and federal foster care services. From 2009 to 2015, Ayala controlled the nonprofit's finances. According to the court, Ayala wrote checks, used the GUTD debit card and withdrew cash at will from the organization's bank accounts. The money went to pay Ayala's mortgage, to remodel her home and pay for travel and transportation.
She also used the nonprofit's money to pay for personal business ventures, including a media company, Big Mary's fish and ribs restaurant in Portland, and to purchase and flip commercial property.
According to the court, after Ayala resigned her position in 2015, she filed five false federal income tax returns for tax years 2009 through 2013. Shortly thereafter, she filed a sixth false return for tax year 2014. Ayala failed to file a tax return in 2015.