Woman accused of stealing $20K donated to help cat shot with bow-and-arrow

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by MALINI BASU

KHOU 11 News Houston

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 1:58 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 1:58 PM

HOUSTON -- Cupid the cat first made the news last March. She was shot with an arrow, and it hit her under the bladder and veterinarians were afraid she wouldn't live.

"It's really messed up, I don't know how anyone can hurt a living creature. She's defenseless, maybe like five or six months old. It's inhumane," said Corina Salinas, the woman who found the cat.

The Panda Wellness Center in West Houston took Cupid in. Part-time manager Lorie Zepeda set up a PayPal account. She helped raise up to $5,000. The owner of the clinic Dr. Claudia Orso was thrilled by all of the donations pouring in, but then stumbled upon something.

"I just glanced through the bank account and I was like what is this PayPal, and I went to do more investigation and then I found out all the money has been transferred there and going to an account that has her name on it," Orso said.

Dr. Orso said Zepeda has since been fired and embezzled nearly $20,000 from her clinic.

Zepeda allegedly set up three PayPal accounts with different names and e-mail addresses and ultimately transferred money into her personal account.

"She would do anything that I would ask her to do and I don't have time to micromanage and run a clinic by myself," Orso said.

Orso said she was shocked Zepeda would betray her trust, especially since Zepeda works as an assistant with the City of Houston's Administration and Regulatory Affairs Office.

"The main thing is you're going to pay for this one way or another. It's going to come back to you," Orso said.

Cupid has made a full recovery.

Zepeda has been charged with aggravated theft. Her attorney Mark Anthony Morasch declined to comment.

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