updated 9/24/2007 4:33:24 PM ET 2007-09-24T20:33:24

The founder of a charity that resettles African refugees in Los Angeles has been charged with embezzling more than $1 million from the nonprofit, prosecutors said.

Nigisti Tesfai, 53, was arrested Thursday after a four-year investigation, the district attorney's office said in a statement. Prosecutors said Tesfai used her position as executive director of the African Community Resource Center to misappropriate public funds and embezzle the group's assets.

Tesfai faces 25 criminal counts, including conspiracy, embezzlement, forgery, filing false tax returns, fraud and grand theft.

Three co-defendants, including Tesfai's boyfriend and brother, also face charges in the case.

Tesfai was jailed on $1.5 million bail and was scheduled to appear in court on Monday. If convicted she could face 15 years in state prison.

It was not clear if Tesfai had hired an attorney. A message left at a number listed in her name was not immediately returned.

The ACRC promised to help resettle refugees, provide group homes for children and open homeless shelters.

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