A woman accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from visually impaired clients she was paid to help with their finances pleaded not guilty Friday.
Courts documents show the alleged thefts happened between April 2014 and December 2017.
Natasha Lagesse, also known as Natasha Green, is accused of stealing from eight clients while working for Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Lagesse's attorney was in court Friday and entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.
Court documents show she was indicted last week on three counts of theft from a person in a protected class, unauthorized use of property and tampering with records.
Clovernook is a nonprofit organization that provides various services and programs to the blind and visually impaired.
It confirms Lagesse was the director of Cincinnati Program Services at the time.
Prosecutors say Lagesse was supposed to help clients with a variety of financial tasks, such as paying bills.
But instead, she allegedly used her access to checkbooks to steal.
The indictment lists eight victims over the course of three years.
Prosecutors say she overbilled and wrote checks to herself totaling $40,000.
Her attorney says that's not the whole story.
"Ms. Lagesse, because these individuals were visually impaired and had other impairments, would often make purchases for them, often of an emergency nature, and then funds were transferred from these folks to reimburse Ms. Lagesse for these purchases. And I think, when you net it all out here, she donated about $10,000 to these people," said attorney Ben Dusing.
Christopher D. Fauster, the president and CEO of Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, issued this statement:
"In the late summer of 2017, Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired learned of an investigation centered on the activities of Natasha Green, now known as Natasha Lagesse. At the time, Ms. Green was the Director of Cincinnati Program Services at Clovernook. Following an internal investigation, Clovernook terminated Ms. Green for cause on Sept. 8, 2017.
Since learning of this investigation in the summer of 2017, Clovernook has fully cooperated with both the Hamilton County Department of Developmental Disabilities Services and the Cincinnati Police Department during their respective investigations into this matter.
In addition, Clovernook has worked both internally and with DDS to implement changes to its policies, procedures, and practices to improve its program services in general and its case-management services specifically.
Clovernook is extremely proud of its 115-year history of empowering people who are blind and visually impaired to be self-sufficient and full participants in their communities. We look forward to continuing this important mission for many more years to come."