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Man charged with stealing $30,000 for kids' college tuition

After police questioned him as to why he stole more than $30,000, 56-year-old Celestino Cruz said he was using the money to pay for his children's college tuition and hasn't eaten or slept since.

Cruz, of Wellington, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on 34 counts of uttering a forged instrument and forgery, organized scheme to defraud, and grand theft.

Cruz, employed by Apogee Business Service as a bookkeeper for a year, oversaw finances for several homeowners and condominium associations. When the associations needed to pay bills, one of the bookkeepers would be in charge of printing out checks. The association president or manager would pick up checks from the bookkeeper and have them approved by board members. The checks were then brought back to the bookkeeper to be forwarded to vendors, a Boynton Beach Police report says.

About a month ago, Apogee Business Service received a call from a property manager of Meadows on the Green saying a check cleared but was payable to Cruz.

The company then investigated all checks written on that account and found 34 fraudulent checks totaling $31,248.73 deposited into Cruz's account.

When questioned by police he said after the checks were approved and given back to him, he would change the "payable to" himself, the report says.

Cruz said he was "sorry for his actions" and is trying to sell his home to pay back the money he stole.

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