Saturday, February 6, 2016

Perrysburg Education board given audit in embezzling case

The Perrysburg Board of Education on Tuesday was presented with the special Ohio Auditor of the State report regarding a former employee in the schools’ treasurer’s office discovered embezzling and later sentenced to 10 years in prison. 
A spokesman with the Ohio Auditor of the State said an audit report meeting was scheduled for Tuesday.
However, that spokesman didn’t know when the audit was to be released.  
Board President Jarman Davis said before Tuesday’s meeting that he couldn’t release any details about the report because it was still in the state’s control. 
The Blade has requested a copy of the audit.
The district went into executive session at 4:30 p.m. to consider the dismissal or discipline of a public employee or official, to consider the appointment of an employee, or confer with the board’s attorney concerning matters involving the public body.
The board came out of the meeting at 7:30 p.m. and took no action.
Eric Whitson had worked in the treasurer’s office for 10 years and was fired shortly after his indictment for theft in office last year in 2014.
Two weeks ago, Whitson, 31, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and to pay restitution of $800,000 between Perrysburg schools and the Bowling Green Bobcat Athletic Boosters.
For months, the board of education and school administration wouldn’t discuss the matter while waiting for the state auditor’s report.
The embezzlement was discovered in 2014 when a new volunteer for the boosters group questioned checks written to them from Perrysburg schools.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Parent club officer accused of embezzlement in California

A Newman woman was arrested Jan. 20 on suspicion of stealing more than $6,000 from the parent-teacher organization (PTO) at Hurd Barrington Elementary School, according to police reports.
Police Chief Randy Richardson said Maria E. Cota, 34, was booked on one count of embezzlement and two counts of burglary.
The arrest and felony charges followed an investigation which began Jan. 8 when other members of the PTO reported discrepancies to authorities, Richardson said.
Cota was the vice president and fund-raising coordinator for the organization, Richardson told Mattos Newspapers.
Richardson said Cota is accused of making unauthorized purchases and withdrawals from the PTO account. He said the case involves 15 ATM withdrawals and two store purchases which occurred from Nov. 21 to Jan. 6.
The total amount involved, Richardson commented, is “in excess of $6,000.”
Cota was an employee of the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District who worked in the after-school program at Von Renner Elementary, confirmed Dave Kline, the district’s director of human resources.
He said that as of Jan. 11 Cota was no longer an employee of the district but declined to provide additional details, citing the confidentiality of personnel matters.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Friend speaks out about OKC pastor accused of embezzlement in Oklahoma

Problems are growing for an Oklahoma City pastor accused of embezzlement. Velio Estrada was the leader of one of the city’s largest Hispanic congregations at El Tabernaculo de Fe.
Edwin Dubon has known him for more than 18 years and says he’s tired of hearing all the negative comments made against his friend.
“I don’t think he’s capable. I don’t think he’s done the things he’s accused of,” he said.
Dubon said that everything has an explanations, such as the poor records kept. He said that’s because he runs a small church with simple people who aren’t used to running a church like a business.
“You go to an American church and you have doctors and lawyers, business owners,” he said. “Most of the people who go to that church are waiters and roofers, not the owners, but the guys putting the roof on.”
Dubon said the legal battle with Oklahoma District Council of the Assemblies of God of the State of Oklahoma is taking a toll on Estrada.
Recently the bank filed a foreclosure notice regarding Estrada's Edmond private estate.
According to the Oklahoma County Assessor’s Office, the home is worth about $475,000 and was titled under El Tabernaculo De Fe Inc.
Court documents list several people on the notice, which says more than $360,000 are owed on the home. Online county records also show there’s more than $24,000 owed on unpaid taxes for the last four years.
Dubon said this supports his claim that Estrada is innocent. “They say he has all that money. Why are they taking his house away if he had all that money?” he said.
A call to the attorney representing Estrada in the foreclosure case was not returned.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fullerton Soccer Club Dealing With Embezzlement Charges

The District Attorney’s office is investigating the former treasurer of the Fullerton Rangers youth soccer group for possibly embezzling more than $190,000 from the volunteer organization, according to the Fullerton Police Department.
Separately, soccer club officials said Wednesday night the former treasurer, Laura Zellerbach, agreed to a confidential civil court settlement last fall but lawyers for the club told them not to publicly disclose the amount.
The Fullerton Rangers filed a complaint with the Fullerton police department in May, 2015, said Fullerton police spokeswoman Sgt. Kathryn Hamel. The complaint alleged at least $192,000 was missing between 2012 and 2015.
“The case is at the DA’s office,” said Hamel, adding it can take several months to investigate such allegations.
Zellerbach apparently left the Fullerton Rangers before the complaint was filed. Her husband, James Zellerbach, declined to discuss the issue Thursday in a brief telephone conversation.
“It’s a confidential settlement,” Rangers President Raul Valdivia told a reporter during a break in the meeting, declining to give an exact amount for the missing money.
In addition to the alleged embezzlement, the sometimes-heated soccer club board meeting highlighted other issues, including allegations a for-profit company was wrongly operating under the umbrella of the nonprofit soccer club and accusations some non-profit board members were acting in secret or punishing the children of parents who criticized the board by denying them spots on teams.
The full board of directors will meet Feb. 2 with city officials to discuss a range of issues, including the for-profit company. Club officers also must prove at least 80 percent of the soccer players live in Fullerton. The city regulates use of city fields by nonprofit groups.
The club sponsors about 172 teams and Hugo Curiel, Fullerton's parks and recreation director, told those at the meeting that the city wanted to maintain recreational soccer.
But, he stressed that taxpayers pay for the playing fields and recreational, non-competitive use is the city's top priority.
“If there is a for-profit out there,” Curiel said, “that is something that goes above and beyond ...”
Rangers board member Jimmy Obleda, director of coaching and technical development, said all money received by the for-profit group, Rangers Academy LLC, goes to pay coaches.
According to the Fullerton Rangers web site, the academy is for children five to eight years old and those who enroll “will have an enhanced opportunity to graduate into our competitive Fullerton Rangers Club teams.”
Board members said it was the former treasurer, Zellerbach, who suggested they form the private company. Obleda said after the meeting the academy was created in response to requests for parents for more competitive training for their children.
“We thought we weren’t doing anything wrong,” he said. “We were actually trying to do the right thing.” He said the private academy is being dissolved and its work will be done by the non-profit Fullerton Rangers.
According to the most recent, publicly available tax statements, the Rangers bring in about $1 million a year, mostly from membership dues and assessments, and spend roughly $900,000, the bulk for coaches salaries and training.
The Fullerton Rangers haven’t done a full, independent audit of its finances, despite the missing money, because of the cost, board members said.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cases of Embezzlement & Fraud lead to changes at two school districts in Wisconsin

Two school districts are making major changes after separate cases of employee fraud and embezzlement. 
Janesville Superintendent Karen Schulte says since Jessica Warner-Reed admitted to stealing $300,000 in student funds, they have revised their fund hand book and are now eyeballing the books with new software.
"A Quicken system where the finance team here can be looking directly at the computer on the ballot sheets," Schulte said.
She says she struggled with the thought that a Craig High School Clerk could do this.
"I'm very saddened and disappointed that this happened," Schulte said.
Another measure the district has taken included hiring fee handlers who take money from students and make sure it gets to the bank.
"We'll be counting money, recounting money, we'll have a checks and balance system," she added.
In Waunakee, Former Athletic Director Brian Smith is now on probation following school credit card fraud.  The school's superintendent Randy Guttenberg says to avoid credit card fraud flying under the radar, they've amped up their auditing.
"As we are processing the credit card, we are randomly pulling credit cards and statements, making sure it is up to policy," Guttenberg said.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sand Creek embezzlement bound over to circuit court in Michigan

An attorney for the former president of the Sand Creek schools band boosters club said Wednesday he will try to repay money he is accused of embezzling and work out a plea agreement.
Jee-Hak Kim Pinsoneault, 34, was charged Jan. 15 with taking more than $13,000 from the club’s bank account during the two years he served as president. Pinsoneault waived a preliminary examination in Lenawee County District Court on a felony charge of embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000. He remains free on personal recognizance pending his arraignment in circuit court on Feb. 10.
“Obviously, one of the best things we can do is make restitution as soon as we can and work out a plea bargain when we get to circuit court,” public defender John Glaser told the court Wednesday in waiving a hearing on evidence in the case.
Pinsoneault said he agreed with Glaser’s statement when asked by Judge Laura J. Schaedler.
The alleged embezzlement was reported by club leaders in Nov-ember to Sand Creek Community Schools administrators. The Lenawee County Sheriff’s Department was immediately notified, said school superintendent Steve Laundra.
Detective Daniel O’Leary said an investigation revealed approximately $13,000 was missing from the boosters’ club bank account since Pinsoneault gained access to the account as club president on Oct. 13, 2013.
“He is fully cooperating and turned himself in,” O’Leary said after Pinsoneault was charged. No money was recovered during the investigation, he said.
Glaser said Wednesday he has no information about what became of the money his client is charged with embezzling.
O’Leary said it appears the money was gradually withdrawn in small amounts over the two-year period until the account was closed on Nov. 15.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Woman sentenced in church embezzlement case in Texas

A woman charged with taking thousands of dollars from the church her husband pastored was sentenced today.
Samantha Webb was sentenced to 45 days in the county jail and five years probation. A few members from the congregation were at the sentencing and tell us how the church has moved forward.
"When her and her husband left our bank account was minus," Compassion Church member James Abernathy said.
Abernathy says he is glad this case is finally over.
Webb is the now former ministers wife at Compassion Church, who in 2014 was caught stealing between $10,000 and $12,000 from the church.
"It put us in pretty bad shape because the church had no funds, we couldn't do anything at the church, any remodeling or upkeep or anything like that," Abernathy said. "It took us quite a while to get back on our feet."
Webb will now have to pay restitution equaling $10,000 to the church.
Abernathy says after Webb embezzled the money, the congregation of 25 dropped down to six people.
Today, they have nearly 40 members.
"We've just depended on each other, loving each other and just being strong with what we are supposed to do," Abernathy side.
"It is exciting to see how the Lord is building the church back to what it is," member Richard Eberhardt said.
He says he is glad the church can move forward.
"I'm not happy," Erberhardt said. "It is unfortunate that we are subject to making mistakes and we all have to answer for what we do both here and in Heaven."
Webb was also convicted for forging two checks in Choctaw County.
Her sentencing is set for next month.