Former business owner pays restitution to resolve allegations she stole from doula network

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — A former city business owner paid restitution last week for allegedly stealing money from the Green River Doula Network, a volunteer nonprofit that offers subsidized doula services to area families.

Jodie Castanza paid $2,887 on Friday to resolve a criminal larceny case filed against her in November 2015, according to Northampton District Court records. Those records show Castanza, a former treasurer of the network, deposited four checks deemed “unauthorized” from the network’s account into an account for her now-defunct business, Grow, LLC, based in Northampton.

“We were deeply saddened to discover appropriation and misuse of a significant portion of our funds by our former treasurer, Jodie Castanza,” the network’s board said in a statement to the Gazette on Tuesday. “As of today, thanks to the efforts of the Northampton Police Department and the District Attorney’s office, we have received restitution, which will enable us to continue to provide services at our usual capacity. We are especially thrilled that our stipend doula services for low-income families are now funded at the usual level.”

The case was continued without finding until May 26, until which date Castanza remains on probation.

Police records show Castanza signed five unauthorized checks between January and June 2015 — four deposited with Grow and another to a business she was affiliated with called ProDoula.

“The case was a little complicated and I really don’t know that there’s anything I can say,” Castanza said Monday.

Rich Madowitz, owner of Thornes Marketplace where Grow was located, said the business closed in July 2015 around the time he began eviction procedures against the company.

“Thornes Marketplace was in the process of evicting Grow for nonpayment of rent and we did not leave off on good terms,” he said.

Other cases

Meantime, another local nonprofit filed a civil complaint against Castanza last year. The Franklin County Community Development Corporation is suing Castanza for about $25,000 related to an unpaid loan. In addition, United Bank has sued Castanza for $10,379 over an unpaid loan. Court records show that the cases have not been resolved.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@gazettenet.com.