Lorraine Shanley is a New York woman accused of stealing more than $400,000 from a charity that benefits the families of NYPD officers killed in the line of duty, federal authorities say. The 68-year-old woman, who is herself an NYPD widow, was arrested Thursday, March 21, and charged with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Shanley, who was the volunteer treasurer for the Survivors of the Shield charity for many years, is accused of using funds meant to help the families of fallen officers to benefit herself and her family. The charity received nearly $2 million in donations during the time Shanley was handling its accounts, from 2010 to 2017, and more than 99 percent of those donations came directly from NYPD officers, according to federal prosecutors.
The charges against Shanley, a Staten Island resident, were announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
“Lorraine Shanley allegedly capitalized on tragedy and monetized people’s generosity. As alleged, Shanley stole over 20 percent of the donations to a charity whose sole mission is to help the families of NYPD officers killed in the line of duty,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. “Thanks to the investigative work of the IRS and special agents from our Office, Shanley will be prosecuted for her actions.”
IRS-Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Larsen said in a statement, “As alleged in the complaint, Lorraine Shanley violated her position of trust at a charity and victimized families who have already sacrificed so much. IRS-CI is committed to following the money and investigating those individuals who steal from charities for their own personal gain.”
Here’s what you need to know about Lorraine Shanley:
1. Lorraine Shanley Is Accused of Using Charity Funds for Her Grandchild’s Private School Tuition, Legal Expenses Related to Her Son’s Criminal Troubles, Personal Dental Work & Landscaping & Barbara Streisand Tickets
Lorraine Shanley is accused of using the Survivor of the Shield charity’s funds to benefit her family and herself, according to the criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors. IRS Special Agent Deleassa Penland wrote in the complaint that between 2010 and 2017, Shanley, “fraudulently obtained money” from a charity checking account and made unauthorized charges with the charity’s credit card. Shanley is also accused of forging the signature of another charity volunteer on double endorsed checks from the charity’s account.
Shanley has been involved with the charity for several years, dating back to at least 2004, including as a board member and volunteer, holding positions including secretary, treasurer and public relations director, according to court documents.
The nonprofit, which was started in 1988, benefits about 120 members, who are widows of officers who died in the line of duty. The charity pays out annual or biannual checks to its members, ranging from about $1,000 to $3,000, with each member receiving the same amount. The charity would also pay additional scholarships, valued at between $2,000 to $4,000, exclusively for college expenses for the surviving spouse or child who died in the line of duty. The charity also at times, but rarely, provided financial assistance for emergency or catastrophic situations, according to court documents.
According to court documents, the charity received about $200,000 to $275,000 per year, between 2010 to 2017, with 99 percent of those donations from NYPD employees. About 5,500 employees donated to the charity per year as part of the NYC Gives program that enables city employees to make charitable contributions through payroll deductions.
Shanley and another widow involved in the charity were the only ones with access to the charity’s bank account, according to court documents. Shanley also had a credit card assigned to her by the charity. Shanley signed the charity’s tax documents as treasurer during the period of 2010 to 2017.
According to court documents, Shanley used charity funds to pay for her grandson’s private school education, lawyers to help with her son’s legal troubles, her own personal dental work, landscaping at her home and for event tickets.
Investigators said Shanley paid $63,000 in legal fees for her son in relation to criminal charges and returned only $8,700 to the bank account. Shanley also wrote checks of $10,000 and $15,000 to a Manhattan law firm in 2015, court records show.
From 2012 to 2017, Shanley is accused of using $32,080 to pay for personal dental work at three different dentists. During that same period, investigators said Shanley paid $25,671 for landscaping services at her home.
In 2016, Shanley wrote a $7,000 check to a family member, who is a police officer,m who was not eligible for benefits from the charity, according to court documents. She forged the signature of another charity volunteer on the check, prosecutors said.
From January 2013 to December 2016, Shanley made 10 purchases with the charity’s credit card for tickets at Stubhub, Vividseats and Ticketmaster, totaling more than $8,000. In May 2016, she paid $1,400 for Barbara Streisand tickets, investigators said.
She also paid nearly $1,000 in parking ticket and traffic camera violations using the charity’s credit card, according to prosecutors, and paid $29,000 for private school tuition for her grandchild. The charity does not pay for education expenses of grandchildren, according to court documents.
You can read the full complaint below:
2. Her Husband, Thomas Shanley, Died of a Heart Attack in the Line of Duty in 1986
According to court documents, Lorraine Shanley is a “heart widow,” meaning her spouse died of a heart ailment during his employment. According to a 2004 newsletter for an NYPD organization, Shanley’s husband, Thomas Shanley, died of a heart attack in the line of duty on July 12, 1986.
Shanley and several other widows had leadership roles in the charity for many years after it was created in 1988. According to court documents, the fraud was uncovered when a new volunteer became involved in the charity’s management. The new volunteer began efforts to modernize the charity’s website and operations, according to court documents.
“As part of that effort, Volunteer-1 requested Charity-1’s tax forms and records from,” another charity volunteer. “Individual-1 obtained the tax forms and records from Lorraine Shanley, the defendant, and turned them over to Volunteer-1.”
According to investigators, the new volunteer “identified various anomalies in the tax forms and records,” including “questionable expenses, such as department store purchases, rent payments and payments for the private-school tuition of Shanley’s grandchild.”
According to court documents, Shanley was confronted by the other volunteers and said she would “pay back the money in full that she had taken” from the charity.
3. Shanley’s Son, Also Named Thomas Shanley, Is in Prison After Hitting & Killing a Pedestrian With His SUV in 2014 While on Parole for Drug Posession Charges
Lorraine Shanley’s son, Thomas Shanley, is currently in New York state prison serving a 2 to 6-year sentence. He was convicted of killing a pedestrian in a hit-and-run crash in 2014. Shanley, 40, previously served three years in prison on drug possession charges and was on parole at the time of the fatal crash, records show.
Charity Hicks, the policy director for the East Michigan Environmental Action Council and a well-known activist for environmental justice in Detroit, was killed in the crash. She was in New York City to speak on a panel. Shanley was initially charged with manslaughter, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide, according to the New York Daily News. He is scheduled to be released from prison later this year.
4. Shanley, Who Is Also the Executive Board Member of the NYPD Police Museum, Often Posted on Social Media About Attending NYPD Events & Relatives Who Are Officers
On social media, Lorraine Shanley presented herself as a highly connected member of the New York City and NYPD communities, often posing with elected officials and high-ranking members of the police department. She also served as an executive board member of the NYPD Police Museum.
Several members of Shanley’s family, including her brother, nieces and nephews, are currently NYPD officers.
It is not clear if Shanley has hired an attorney who could comment on her behalf and she could not be reached for comment by Heavy. The Survivors of the Shield charity organization has not commented about Shanley’s arrest.
5. Lorraine Shanley Was Scheduled to Appear in Court on Thursday & Faces Up to 32 Years in Prison if Convicted of the Charges Against Her
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, “Shanley, 68, of Staten Island, New York, is charged with one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum penalty of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed.”
Prosecutors added, “The maximum and mandatory minimum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.”
In the press release, the U.S. Attorney’s office said, “Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the IRS-CI. He also thanked the New York City Police Department for their assistance. This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Brett M. Kalikow is in charge of the prosecution.”
Prosecutors added, “The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”
Shanley was scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, March 21.