La Mesa

Jerrilyn C. Poitra, former director of a federally funded nutrition program for poor and disabled senior citizens in La Mesa, pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing more than $40,000 from the agency over two years.

Prosecutors at the U. S. attorney’s office in San Diego said that Poitra, 45, pleaded guilty to an 89-count indictment that included 87 counts of stealing federal monies and two counts of income tax evasion. She will be sentenced in U. S. District Court on April 3 and could receive a sentence of 15 years and a $500,000 fine, prosecutors said.

In a plea bargain worked out with prosecutors, Poitra agreed to make full restitution and pay federal income taxes for the money she stole. She could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison on each of the 87 counts of stealing public funds and five years on each count of income tax evasion.

Poitra was director of the La Mesa Nutrition Center for almost seven years until she was forced to resign in April. An investigation showed that Poitra wrote 87 Nutrition Center checks payable to herself between 1986 and 1988 as reimbursements for purchases that were never made. The phony checks were discovered during a routine audit.


Prosecutors said that Poitra is on five years’ probation stemming from a 1984 conviction in San Diego County for welfare fraud.