Stock photo, Metro Creative Graphics

Stock photo, Metro Creative Graphics

Renton woman sentenced for embezzling from multiple nonprofits

Susana Tantico receives prison sentence of 41 months for embezzling more than $3 million.

A Renton woman, the former finance director at two Seattle-area nonprofits, was sentenced on Sept. 5 in U.S. District Court to 41 months in prison for embezzling more than $3 million from her employers.

Susana Tantico, 63, committed the embezzlement over an 11-year period, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said he could not understand how Tantico went from defrauding one nonprofit to another, especially since the first provided medical care to immigrant communities.

“You were leaving people who are sick today without the money to treat them,” Judge Robart told Tantico.

According to records filed in the case, in 1999, Tantico began working for a nonprofit that provides healthcare to underserved populations. Ultimately, Tantico became the nonprofit’s finance director. Between 2011 and June 2020, Tantico secretly embezzled millions of dollars from the healthcare organization. Bank records are available only for the period beginning in December 2016. Between December 2016 and December 2020, Tantico stole nearly $2.3 million from the healthcare nonprofit. She used the nonprofit’s debit and credit cards to withdraw $1.6 million at casinos for gambling.

She also used the debit and credit cards to pay for personal vacations, such as a $26,000 family trip to Florida, and trips to Las Vegas and San Diego. Tantico also used the healthcare nonprofit’s debit and credit cards for more than $83,000 worth of purchases at Nordstrom, and $40,000 worth of purchases at Apple stores.

“Ms. Tantico chose to victimize nonprofit organizations, whose work is critical to our community: one employer provided medical care to those who cannot afford it; the other works to assist youth in the criminal justice system,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Gorman. “But over 11 years, knowing she was putting critical services at risk, she stole millions to finance her mortgage, pay for her vacations, and finance her gambling losses.”

After running up these expenses, Tantico used the nonprofit’s funds to pay the credit card bills and disguised the payments as legitimate expenses. For example, she categorized expenses for one vacation as “pharmacy supplies” in the accounting system. Throughout this timeframe, Tantico told the nonprofit auditors that she was aware of no fraud at the nonprofit.

In 2020, Tantico went to work as finance director for a different nonprofit with a focus on criminal justice issues. Tantico used more than $485,000 of the nonprofit’s funds for gambling at casinos. She transferred $21,000 from the nonprofit to her mortgage servicer to pay her home mortgage. She also transferred money to her personal bank account. Tantico then altered the bank records to hide the embezzlement.

At one point, Tantico was questioned by one of the organization’s banks about the pattern of withdrawals at casinos. She claimed that the nonprofit held youth programs at the casinos, and that the withdrawals were for cash prize giveaways. In all, Tantico stole nearly $893,000 from the nonprofit. The nonprofit has incurred $132,000 in costs to forensically audit its books, fix its accounting procedures and records, and reply to vendors.

Tantico not only stole the money, but used her position to hide her theft, according to the DOJ. She created phony accounting entries that made her expenditures look like business expenses. She doctored bank statements. She lied to auditors. And she developed financial policies prohibiting the personal use of corporate credit cards, while knowing she was stealing millions of dollars by doing exactly that. Tantico’s theft averaged about $550,000 per year between 2016 and 2022.

In court on Sept. 5, Tantico said: “I am truly sorry… They were my work family…. It’s like I was two separate people. … I always meant to fix it.”

Following prison, Tantico will be on three years of supervised release. She has a restitution obligation of $3.1 million. She provided the court with a $60,000 check today from the sale of her home.

The case was investigated by the FBI.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

17-year-old found shooting Orbeez gel balls at Federal Way students

Federal Way Police are unaware of any connection between several cases involving the toy guns.

Renton community safety forum targets crime stats, domestic violence

Renton Police chief says when he first started it was rare to have a firearm incident on the street

Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times / Pool
Jeffrey Nelson at his trial May 16.
Jurors continue to hear testimony in murder case against Auburn officer

Jeffrey Nelson is the first officer in Washington to face a murder charge following the passage of I-940.

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO
Maple Valley day care employee charged with sex offenses

Federal Way man was employed at Discovery Playtown

Man killed by sheriff’s deputies in Auburn identified

Multiple shots fired during May 24 eviction

Chris Reykdal
State superintendent of schools says student privacy won’t diminish

Chris Reykdal: Federal protections for privacy remain despite state’s new parental bill of rights

State Capitol in Olympia. FILE PHOTO
Hundreds of new laws will take effect in state June 6

Legislature approved changes in police pursuits, parental rights, firearms and other laws

A Sound Transit fare ambassador checks with a light rail rider. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit
Fare inspections at Sound Transit Link stations begin June 3

Passengers will need proof of payment within fare paid zones at boarding areas

Jeffrey Nelson at his trial May 16, 2024. (Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times / Pool)
Murder trial begins for Auburn Police officer Jeffrey Nelson

First officer in Washington to face a murder charge following the passage of Initiative 940.

Men serving halal food on Eid Mubarak 2024. Photo By Joshua Solorzano/Federal Way Mirror
Washington state passes Halal Food Consumer Protection Act

Federal Way Muslim activist details how this bill came about and why it is important