Santa Rosa Jewish volunteer accused of embezzlement

A well-known member of Santa Rosa’s Jewish community was arrested last week on suspicion of embezzling roughly $15,000 from a nonprofit where she serves as treasurer.

Police allege Jan Gail Schwartz stole more than $33,000 from the Montgomery High School Education Foundation over a roughly two-year period, and paid back more than half of that amount prior to being arrested at her home May 17. Schwartz’s husband, Paul, has since written a check to the nonprofit for $13,500.

Jan Schwartz, who is also the program director of the Sonoma County Jewish Film Series, chairs the Tzaddikim Jewish Teen Leadership Program at Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa and is a volunteer staffer at the Jewish Community Agency of Sonoma County.

Reached at her Santa Rosa home, Schwartz said she has no comment on the charges of embezzlement and 20 counts of forgery, all of which are potential felonies.

“I have no comment about it and no idea why you want to write this article,” she said. “I’m really trying to call as little attention to it as possible.”

She declined to state whether she will plead innocent or guilty to the chargers or if she had yet hired a lawyer.

The Santa Rosa Police Department announced this week it is widening the investigation to a pair of other nonprofits Schwartz volunteered for. Shomrei Torah Rabbi George Gittleman said the finances of the program Schwartz oversaw are in perfect order.

“I have the highest regard for her and her family. They are more than welcome at Shomrei Torah,” he said.

“We also are concerned for their children. They have two teenaged children and we want to make sure they feel welcome. We hope Jan will stay involved in the program. We are not sure who will be chair of the committee.”

Daniel Harris, the executive director of the Jewish Community Agency of Sonoma County, declined to comment on Schwartz’s future at the organization.

Her arraignment is scheduled for June 7.

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is a columnist at Mission Local. He is also former editor-at-large at San Francisco Magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.