Borelli charged with stealing playground funds
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Alabaster police arrested Alabaster resident Roseanna Borelli Sept. 20 and charged her with using about $6,400 intended to fund a playground for special-needs children to purchase clothes and online dating accounts.
Police arrested 41-year-old Borelli, the mother of Linda Nolen Learning Center student Joey Paulin, and charged her with two counts of second-degree theft by deception and one count of third-degree theft by deception at about 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 20 after she turned herself in to authorities.
The arrest came several days after a Shelby County grand jury issued an indictment against her.
Over the past several years, Borelli has been an active fundraiser and advocate for her special-needs child, and has set up several websites in his name to solicit donations.
Police said Borelli solicited about $6,400 in donations over the course of “several months” to help fund an adaptive special-needs playground at the Linda Nolen Learning Center in Pelham.
The Linda Nolen Learning Center is a school for children throughout Shelby County who have significant special needs.
The playground, which contains equipment such as a wheelchair-accessible swing and several sensory items, opened in October 2010, but project organizers never received any donations from Borelli, a member of the school’s PTO said during a 2010 interview.
“She actually came to one of our meetings when we first started talking about the playground, and handed out some forms and fliers,” PTO member April Mason said during the interview, noting Borelli’s documents were soliciting donations for the playground project.
“We were just kind of upset that she wasn’t helping us with the playground fundraiser we had already set up,” Mason said. “But she didn’t want to do it through the school. She said it would limit her fundraising abilities.”
Alabaster police Deputy Chief Curtis Rigney said Borelli solicited donations for the project by distributing flyers and starting an allegedly bogus non-profit organization. Rigney said the investigation on Borelli is ongoing, and more charges are pending.
“She told people their donations would be tax-deductible, but they weren’t tax deductible,” Rigney said. “Those were funds she raised on the pretense of building a playground, but she spent it on herself. You can’t do that.”
Rigney said Borelli spent the donation money on herself on a regular basis as she was raising it. Rigney said investigators were able to determine Borelli spent the money on Internet dating websites, clothing and hotels.
“She was spending it on herself while she was raising it. She didn’t raise all of it and then spend it on herself,” Rigney said, noting the department has been investigating the matter for nearly four months. “She never turned those funds over to the school.”
In the 2010 interview, Mason said fraudulently raising money on the school’s behalf could damage other LNLC fundraising efforts.
“We try our best to do what we can to raise money,” Mason said. “She was using the school’s name, and saying ‘Everything is going to the Linda Nolen Learning Center.’
“When you use someone’s name like that, people start wondering where their money is going,” Mason added.