Founder of veteran’s non-profit arraigned on embezzlement charges

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The founder of an Erie non-profit appears in federal court this morning.

Over the years, the Erie Community has gotten to know Venus Azevedo-Laboda for her work with veterans, but today, several of those veterans showed up to the hearing, many saying they’re not surprised by the charges.

Azevedo-Laboda is accused of embezzling more than $7,000 from the non-profit she created, Boots on Ground. 

The organization provides services to veterans transitioning back into civilian life and recovering from numerous disorders including post-traumatic stress.

According to a federal indictment, Azevedo-Laboda used funds donated to Boots on Ground for personal bills made out to several companies, including Time Warner, First Energy, and National Fuel.  

She could face up to 20 years behind bars for each count of wire fraud.  Today, she entered a plea of not guilty in federal court.

A trial date has not yet been set.

Stay tuned to JET 24 Action News at 5 and 6 for more…

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