Former Director of Finance for the La Jolla Music Society Sentenced to 30 months in Prison | USAO-SDCA

Assistant U. S. Attorney Mark Conover (619) 546-6763   


SAN DIEGO – Chris Benavides, former finance director at La Jolla Music Society, was sentenced in federal court today to 30 months in prison for embezzling more than $650,000 from the non-profit over a 10-year period. Benavides was also ordered to pay a minimum of $650,000 in restitution.

Benavides oversaw the budgeting process and human resources. Over the years he regularly claimed that many staff salary increases were not possible due to budgetary constraints. However, during that same period, Benavides was stealing for himself an average of about $65,000 per year.

Forensic review revealed that over the years Benavides’ theft became more and more sophisticated.  He regularly planned his theft in advance of each fiscal year, budgeting for the amount that he would take over the next 12 months and imbedding those expenses in various budget lines. This ensured that none of the expense lines would show conspicuous variances when reviewed by other staff, board members or auditors. It was also discovered he regularly signed or forged checks for his personal benefit and made false entries in the books to hide what he was doing. 

“Mr. Benavides exploited his position of trust with the La Jolla Music Society by stealing month after month for over a decade,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “His greed and deception have had a lasting impact on this non-profit….

Read more…