Philly tourism agency defends actions amid embezzlement scandal

A grand jury report says negligence by the head of the Philadelphia-area tourism bureau helped enable a former chief financial officer to embezzle $200,000.

A spokeswoman for Visit Philadelphia said Thursday the grand jury was inaccurate in asserting CEO Meryl Levitz knew about the Joyce Levitt’s inaccurate accounting but didn’t address it.

Paula Butler said the problem was well-hidden from the nonprofit’s CEO, and, as soon as she learned of it, Levitt’s credit card was cancelled.

Levitt faces felony charges of fraud, theft and forgery.

Prosecutors say she spent the money on fancy dinners, skin care regimens and a New York furrier.

The DA’s office began investigating after a newspaper reported Levitt had been allowed to quietly resign in 2012 and return the money.

Butler said the tourism agency appreciates the DA’s “watchfulness and follow-up.”

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