Woman Gets 15 Years in Prison for Embezzling Over $1 Million from Pasadena Chamber of Commerce

Woman Gets 15 Years in Prison for Embezzling Over $1 Million from Pasadena Chamber of Commerce
Jamie Huffar

Jamie Huffar, 47, a former financial administrator at the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, has pleaded guilty to charges of theft and forgery, admitting to embezzling more than $1 million from the organization. The sentencing, announced by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, includes 15 years in prison for the white-collar crimes.

Huffar, who initially joined the Chamber as a bookkeeper, ascended to the position of Director of Finance. The embezzlement occurred between November 2017 and November 2022, during which she exploited the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to delay audits and other financial checks.

The stolen funds were utilized for personal indulgences, including cosmetic surgeries, trips to Budapest and Disney World, massages, new iPhones, clothing, and seats at the 2022 World Series to support the Astros with a friend. Huffar’s illicit activities involved creating fake balance statements, opening credit cards in others’ names, skimming funds from fundraising events, and direct transfers to her PayPal account.

Upon investigation by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Pasadena Police Department over a four-month period, the extent of the embezzlement was revealed. Huffar, with no prior criminal record, submitted a guilty plea to two first-degree felonies— theft and forgery—resulting in the dismissal of three other charges.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Levine, chief of the DA’s Public Corruption Division, acknowledged the Pasadena Police Department’s crucial role in the investigation. Despite exhaustive efforts, restitution is deemed impossible as Huffar spent the embezzled funds on a lavish lifestyle.

Levine highlighted the vulnerability of small businesses and nonprofits to embezzlement due to the lack of insurance or bonding for trusted employees. He recommended implementing robust checks and balances, conducting consistent audits, and advocating for employees to take annual vacation time to facilitate regular reviews of financial documents and expenditures.

Huffar, taken into custody immediately after the plea agreement, is barred from appealing the convictions or the imposed 15-year sentence.