A former production manager for the Music, Dance and Theater Department at New Jersey City University was sentenced to three years in prison today for embezzling $87,600 from the school.
“I deeply regret I can no longer be part of something that was so important to me,” said Kathleen Peet, 37, of Rochelle Park, before being sentenced by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mitzy Galis-Menendez.
“I stand here today in acknowledging the fact that when one does wrong, there will be consequences.”
Peet and her attorney asked Galis-Menendez to sentence the former NJCU employee to probation only but the judge denied their request.
“It is a serious offense when you are a state employee entrusted to handle money and you are taking the money for yourself," Galis-Menendez said.
Peet was responsible for the box office receipts from performances of the school's Music, Dance and Theater Department and she turned them over to the Bursar’s Office, typically once or twice per semester. She admitted that she stole from the cash receipts while they were in her custody.
The university discovered that the deposits to the bursar did not match the box office receipts and an audit revealed about $60,000 was missing from 2008 through 2013. Peet was suspended without pay in October 2013 and resigned the following month.
The Division of Criminal Justice's investigation revealed additional thefts prior to 2008 bringing the total to $87,587.
“White collar crime doesn’t just affect the bottom line, it affects people – in this case, the students involved in performing arts at this university,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “By sending this woman to prison, we send a powerful deterrent message to others who might engage in this type of embezzlement.”
in court today, Peet read a lengthy statement at the sentencing, often stopping to wipe tears from her eyes. After the sentencing, she was led from court in handcuffs.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
Thursday, January 22, 2015
The former treasurer of Mona Shores' Campbell Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization has been scheduled for a guilty or no-contest plea to embezzling from the organization.
After a pretrial conference this week, Jordann Nicole Lockhart was scheduled for a plea Feb. 17 in front of Muskegon County 14th Circuit Chief Judge William C. Marietti, according to the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office.
Lockhart, 33, of Muskegon was charged last October with embezzlement by agent or trustee of between $20,000 and $50,000. That's a felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison, but the actual sentence would be decided by Marietti based on state guidelines. Lockhart has no prior criminal record, which means her sentencing guidelines would likely be low.
Lockhart is accused of stealing more than $46,000 from the parent-teacher group.
Prosecutors earlier said the alleged embezzlements happened over a period of about 19 or 20 months in 2013 and 2014. Lockhart, who had control of the PTO's checking account, allegedly made checks out to cash or to herself, draining the organization's account.
The PTO is independent of the school. PTOs raise money privately through fundraisers, box-top redemptions, popcorn sales and the like.
Because of the embezzlement, the organization was left with no money to pay for new playground equipment recently installed at Campbell School, former Mona Shores Superintendent Dave Peden said last October. The school temporarily covered approximately $25,000 in costs, with the PTO expected to gradually repay the school district over a period of time, he said.
According to earlier reports, the missing money was discovered after the pastor of Westwood Reformed Church was presented with a check from the PTO that was returned for insufficient funds. The pastor informed the school's principal. The church helps the school with various events, including the annual fifth grade graduation ceremony.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
A former PTA treasurer suspected of stealing more than $10,000 from the organization surrendered Tuesday afternoon to Cumberland County investigators, authorities said.
Emily Morgan Robinson, 28, of 2630 Wade-Stedman Road in Stedman, is charged with embezzlement. She was released on an unsecured $2,500 bond.
Robinson served as treasurer for Stedman Elementary School's PTA from August through November. An investigation of PTA funds began on Nov. 20, after discrepancies were discovered in a bank account belonging to school PTA, authorities said.
Detectives searched records involving monies collected through various fundraisers and found that $10,034.96 was unaccounted for. Authorities said Robinson wrote several checks for her personal use from the account and failed to post and deposit cash received from fundraisers.
Calling her crime "knowing and willful" a federal judge Tuesday sentenced former Harrisburg Area Community College Vice President Nancy Rockey to 15 months in prison for stealing $233,000 from the school.
The penalty U.S. Middle District Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner imposed was six months lower than that sought by the prosecutor.
Conner said he took several factors into account, including what he believes is Rockey's genuine remorse for the somewhat bizarre three-year embezzlement scheme and a deal she has struck to at least partly repay HACC's insurer.
Investigators said that, beginning in 2009, Rockey used a HACC-issued credit card to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gift cards from Amazon and Target. She then doctored financial records to hide the thefts. Rockey was arrested in January 2013 and pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge 10 months later.
Rockey, 55, a single mother of two from Lower Paxton Township, was visibly nervous as she waited for Conner to enter the courtroom. She wept as Conner allowed her to speak before sentencing.
"I can never articulate…how awful I feel," she said. "Remorse is so deep inside me. And guilt."
Rockey told the judge she had "grown up at HACC," having started work there at age 22. Her career at the college spanned 31 years. "I loved HACC. I loved HACC with all my heart," she said. "There is absolutely no excuse for what I've done."
"The past three years I've been in Hell," Rockey added. "I'm a different person. I'm a broken person. But I believe in changing lives and making a difference."
One supporter called by defense attorney Adam G. Klein, psychologist Lee Morand, told Conner she believes the financial fraud stemmed at least partly from financial pressures Rockey experienced after being divorced.
"She is remorseful and in my opinion has been for three years. I believe she will be for the rest of her life," Morand said.
Another backer, Frank Dixon, chairman of the Lebanon-based Dixon Foundation and a board member and former chairman of the HACC Foundation, spoke of how impressed he was working with Rockey on fund-raising for HACC.
"She made a mistake, but I think her talents and energy are needed by society," Dixon said.
A friend, of Rockey, Doug Neidigh, said the news of her crime "hit me like a punch in the stomach." The fraud was totally out of character for her, he said.
Neidigh also urged Conner not to overlook what he said were Rockey's "dedication" and contributions to HACC. "She had a large hand in bringing the college to where it is now," he said.
Klein said Rockey had tried, unsuccessfully, to repay HACC in full from her retirement, but was unable to access the funds to do so. He said she has an agreement to settle the restitution issue by paying the college's insurer $127,500 at a pace of $18,000 annually. HACC was made whole by its insurer, Klein said.
About 20 backers of Rockey attended her sentencing hearing. Conner noted he received four dozen letters from her supporters.
Yet Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph J. Terz insisted that Rockey's crime was not so different from other financial offenses that have sent local bank officials and others to federal prison recently.
Rockey's obvious dedication to HACC simply makes her crime "all the more baffling," said Terz, who sought a prison term of at least 21 months.
"This is not a private institution. It's a public institution," he said of HACC. "She's betrayed the trust of the community, and to a larger extent the trust of society."
Conner said Rockey's crime was a "fairly complex fraud with significant financial consequences." Still, it is obvious she "was a dedicated employee in many respects," he said, and she could not have believed her embezzlement would not eventually be discovered.
"I believe Ms. Rockey is remorseful enough that she will never again engage in this type of activity," Conner said.
He ordered Rockey to begin serving her prison term on Feb. 19.
Monday, January 19, 2015
A former Traverse City Area Public Schools employee moved closer to trial on accusations she embezzled thousands of dollars from the school district.
Mary Gillison, 50, of Arcadia, is charged with one count of embezzlement greater than $1,000 but less than $20,000, a five-year felony. TCAPS officials said more than $58,000 disappeared since 2006.
Gillison's case was bound over to 13th Circuit Court on Monday, but her next hearing is yet to be scheduled.
,Both the audit and subsequent sheriff's investigation into Gillison's bank statements show about $8,000 in unauthorized purchases since 2009, but school officials report about $58,600 in missing money from 2006 until Gillison resigned.
Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said investigators could only look back through 2009 because the statute of limitations is six years in criminal cases. That's why she is only being charged with embezzlement greater than $1,000 but less than $20,000.