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Personal assistant to ex-Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas accused of stealing more than $360K

Monday, October 01, 2012

Galveston's former mayor, the face of the island during Hurricane Ike, claims she is the victim of a theft scheme spanning years.

Lyda Ann Thomas accuses her personal assistant of stealing more than $360,000 from her over the past seven years.

Mary Castano is out on bond after she was indicted on felony theft. Prosecutors say she embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the former Galveston mayor since 2004.

Prosecutors say the embezzlement started in December of 2004 and lasted until January of this year

"The specific amount in question today is $367,000," said prosecutor Elizabeth Cuchens. "Unauthorized credit card transactions, unauthorized loans and debits from various accounts, unauthorized online transactions gong into Miss Castano's accounts," said Cuchens.

We went to Castano's Galveston home for her reaction to the accusations. She didn't have much to say.

"Without my attorney, I think it's best I keep myself shut," Castano told us.

The former mayor did not return our phone calls.

Castano, 51, worked for Thomas as an office manager, a campaign manager and a personal assistant. None of the money allegedly stolen came from campaign funds.

The prosecutor says she used a lot of the money to pay bills.

"Reliant, Sprint, those sorts of things. A lot of it resulted in cash withdrawals; unfortunately it's difficult to trace where cash withdrawals go," said Cuchens.

But the prosecutor says Castano's defense is the former mayor approved of the transactions

"She believed she was entitled to these funds. But we believe we have the evidence to support a conviction," Cuchens said.

Castano's trial is scheduled for November 5. Castano did not work for the city of Galveston, and the city had no comment.

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galveston, local, adela uchida
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