Monday, February 27, 2017

Man pleads guilty to church embezzlement

A Raytown man pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to embezzling more than $86,000 from Nativity of Mary Church and school in Independence and Sacred Heart of Guadalupe Church in Kansas City, where he worked or volunteered. 

David Townley, 59, pleaded guilty in Kansas City federal court to one count each of wire fraud, mail fraud and tax evasion. He initially faced a 14-count indictment when charged in June 2016.

By pleading guilty, Townley admitted that he committed wire fraud while serving as business manager at Nativity from December 2006 to June 2013. His job gave him access to collections, donations and tuition payments, and according to court documents he skimmed tuition payments and frequent bank deposits separate from his and his wife's salary payments. 

During that same time period, Townley admitted, he stole more than $47,700 from Guadalupe, where he had been volunteering since 2002. He had been in charge of paying bills, making book entries and preparing tax returns. According to court documents is wrote unauthorized checks to himself and third parties. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

West Seneca Baseball leader sentenced to weekends in jail in embezzlement case


The president of the West Seneca Youth Baseball Association who stole close to $50,000 from the organization was sentenced Tuesday to spend weekends in jail for the next three months.
Kevin Chodkowski, 46, of West Seneca already has repaid $49,350 to the baseball club, the full amount that investigators could confirm that he stole. He pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny after the restitution was paid.
Chodkowski took the money when he was head of the league, from 2011-2014, and lost much of it in local casinos, according to prosecutor Christopher Jurusik.
Chodkowski is now in counseling for his gambling addiction.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Embezzlement charges dropped against former Bruton High School bookkeeper

Six embezzlement charges have been dropped against Bruton High School’s former bookkeeper, who was accused of opening an unauthorized corporate credit account in the school’s name and making purchases with it over a span of four and a half years.
Prosecutors made a motion to drop the charges, including five felonies and a misdemeanor, against Charlene Flood-Liggon in York-Poquoson General District Court Tuesday afternoon.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jacob Lambert asked to drop the charges because the “commonwealth had insufficient evidence” in the case. The charges were nolle prossed, meaning the prosecution will not pursue the charges unless more evidence comes to light.
Flood-Liggon, 54, of Newport News, worked as a bookkeeper at Bruton High School, handling cash and checks from “every aspect” of the school, including athletics, arts, field trips and more, according to court documents.
According to the criminal complaint, Bruton High School’s principal, Arletha Dockery, started to become suspicious of Flood-Liggon when she noticed several years’ worth of cash deposits missing from the high school’s bank account.
The police investigation, which started last June, tied Flood-Liggon to $4,731.56 in purchases on an Amazon Corporate Credit account, court documents state. The purchases spanned from Dec. 14, 2011 to April 5, 2016.
The School Board terminated her employment when the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office opened the investigation, according to court documents.
When Dockery was cleaning out Flood-Liggon’s desk, she discovered an Amazon statement addressed to the former bookkeeper, documents state.
“While Dockery has only been principal at BHS for one year, she did not recall there being an authorized account for the school,” the criminal complaint states.
The account was created by Flood-Liggon “under the guise of purchasing for BHS,” and the bookkeeper opened a line of credit in the school’s name, the document states.
Dockery worked directly with Amazon to get account statements from as far back as December 2011, which were all addressed to Flood-Liggon using the school’s address at 185 E. Rochambeau Drive, according to the criminal complaint.
Flood-Liggon was charged on Aug. 3 with six counts of embezzlement, at the completion of the investigation.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Editorial: Embezzlement charge at Fayetteville private school exposes risks of voucher abuse

In the last three school years, North Carolina taxpayers have spent nearly $859,000 to educate elementary and high school students at Trinity School in Fayetteville. The school is the top recipient of the state’s private school vouchers.
Just last week Heath Vandevender, athletic director at the school and vice president of the Truth Outreach Center Inc., was arrested and accused of embezzling nearly $400,000 in employee tax withholdings at the private school.
Vandevender, who was released on $50,000 bond, continues to coach the boys’ basketball team and is still employed by the school, according to his father, Rev. Dennis Vandevender, the leader of Trinity Christian School.
So, the state’s biggest recipient of taxpayer-funded private school vouchers is accused of failing to pay nearly a half-million dollars in required state taxes.
In the three years since the state-funded vouchers have been offered, schools have quickly caught on to the “opportunity of vouchers. The number of schools participating has grown from 224 when launched to 349 this current school year.
And what kind of oversight does North Carolina have to make sure schools receiving vouchers are spending taxpayer money properly? Next to none.
For politicians who have made a mantra out of “running government like a business,” the opportunity school vouchers is a scheme that might delight Bernie Madoff.
While schools that receive more than $300,000 in vouchers are required by state law to conduct an audit, incredibly they don’t have to reveal or share the contents of that audit. And while the schools are required to administer a “nationally standardized test” to students annually, it is up to the schools to select the test – and there is no requirement they be the same, or similar to those used to measure the progress of students in North Carolina public schools.
This latest accusation of administrative and financial abuse at Trinity School is a stark reminder that our lawmakers should have reasonable rules and regulations in place to assure taxpayers that their money is being spent wisely.
Many of the schools have rules and policies imposing discrimination, excluding some students based on their faith, if their parents are gay, or whether students might be LGBT. These policies shouldn't be supported with state tax dollars.
Further, these schools that are so anxious to accept the state funding should be expected to show how the money was spent and whether the resulting education was worth it.
This school year the state’s paid out more than $12 million to support 5,432 students at 349 private schools. Within 10 years, the legislature has mandated the program grow to $13 .8 million for support of 32,105 students.
North Carolina taxpayers should know how their tax dollars are being spent – and not left to merely take the word of private school administrators or the students’ parents.
If the legislature is determined to continue funding the vouchers, it should impose appropriate accountability measures that assures taxpayers the money is paying for student education and that the schools are being operated in a financially responsible way. Additionally, the schools should demonstrate student progress through the same, or similar standardized tests that public schools are required to meet.
Failing to do this cheats North Carolina taxpayers and just as importantly, fails the students it is intended to help.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ex-Baruch College basketball coach allegedly pocketed $600K from school

A former Baruch College basketball coach and athletic department official was busted Tuesday for pocketing more than half million dollars that should have gone to the college for rentals of its athletic facilities, authorities said.

Machli Joseph, who served as a women’s basketball coach for 10 years and an assistant athletics director from 2002 through 2016, was charged with one count of embezzlement, said Manhattan U. S. Attorney Preet Bharara and state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.

Baruch rented out its gym to outside parties when it was not used by its athletic teams.

Officials said Joseph, 42, had sole control over the rentals and schedules.

On numerous occasions between 2010 and 2016, Joseph rented the gym to individuals and groups, with the money intended to go into Baruch’s coffers.

But Joseph directed the payments be made to bank accounts over which he had personal control, authorities said.

On several occasions, Joseph even directed that payment be made directly to himself or associates of his, according to the charges.

Many of these funds were ultimately spent on personal expenses, including renovations to Joseph’s home in Elizabeth, N.J., officials said.

All told, the scheme improperly diverted approximately $600,000, the criminal complaint said.

“Embezzling money from a public college is no game, and for allegedly taking criminal advantage of his control over Baruch’s basketball courts, Joseph will now face federal charges in a court of law,” Bharara said.

Joseph has been charged with one count of embezzlement and misapplication concerning a program receiving federal funds, which is how Bharara got involved.

The charge carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison.

Baruch College president Mitchell Wallerstein issued a statement saying the college was cooperating with authorities and had changed its practices:

“Today, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York arrested a former Baruch College employee, Machli Joseph, on charges of embezzlement. While employed at the College, it is alleged that he diverted approximately $600,000 in funds that were intended for the College. I am disturbed by this betrayal of trust, and will take further steps to improve oversight.

“We are disappointed that an employee would allegedly perpetrate a criminal theft of financial resources that are so critical to our students’ success. We support the U.S. Attorney’s intention to prosecute this case to the full extent allowed by law.

“Baruch has cooperated with the New York State Inspector General’s investigation that led to the charges from the U.S. Attorney’s office. We appreciate the diligence that led to the discovery of this malfeasance, and we intend to continue to offer our cooperation.

“Mr. Joseph was employed by the Baruch Athletics department between 2002 and 2016, first as Women’s Basketball Coach and later as Assistant Athletics Director. Beginning in 2015, Baruch started a significant reorganization of the Athletics department to improve its monitoring, control and rules of enforcement. Among the changes that have been made:

Revamped the role of Athletics Director. The revised position has substantially more responsibility to assure compliance by coaches and other staff with external and internal rules and procedures.
As part of these efforts, Mr. Joseph was moved from the Athletics Department in November 2015, and he resigned from the College in October of 2016.
Appointed a new Faculty Athletics Representative who is an authority on sports law.
Established an Athletics Compliance Team with oversight regarding all of Baruch’s athletic programs and compliance under the leadership of the College’s legal counsel.
“Baruch will continue to cooperate with all investigative and law enforcement agencies regarding this matter, which violates all of our standards and values.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

Man pleads guilty to church embezzlement

A Raytown man pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to embezzling more than $86,000 from Nativity of Mary Church and school in Independence and Sacred Heart of Guadalupe Church in Kansas City, where he worked or volunteered.

David Townley, 59, pleaded guilty in Kansas City federal court to one count each of wire fraud, mail fraud and tax evasion. He initially faced a 14-count indictment when charged in June 2016.


By pleading guilty, Townley admitted that he committed wire fraud while serving as business manager at Nativity from December 2006 to June 2013. His job gave him access to collections, donations and tuition payments, and according to court documents he skimmed tuition payments and frequent bank deposits separate from his and his wife's salary payments.

During that same time period, Townley admitted, he stole more than $47,700 from Guadalupe, where he had been volunteering since 2002. He had been in charge of paying bills, making book entries and preparing tax returns. According to court documents is wrote unauthorized checks to himself and third parties.


Analysis of Townley's bank records showed he used the embezzled money mostly to pay off credit card debt. Townley also admitted that he failed to file federal income tax returns for tax years 2005-13 and tried to conceal his true sources of income at Nativity and Guadalupe.

Townley faces up to 45 years in federal prison without parole, and sentencing hearing will be scheduled for at a later date.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

WVSP investigate embezzlement involving Boone County Schools

The West Virginia State Police (WVSP) are investigating an embezzlement case involving Boone County Schools.

State police were at the bus garage Wednesday, February 15 serving search warrants for financial records.

According to the WVSP the funds being investigated are within the transportation department of Boone County Schools. However, there is a local business and individuals allegedly involved in this case as well.

Sgt. Sutphin of the WVSP Madison Detachment said they received a tip and that is when they started pulling records through the companies and discovered some fraudulent transactions had taken place.

“When we started piecing it together it just came in a whirlwind,” said Sutphin.

According to Sgt. Sutphin this has probably been going on for about two years. As for the dollar amount the WVSP have not come up with a grand total at this time.

“Every day the totals are going up and down,” said Sutphin.

“It is a pretty complex investigation,” said Sutphin. “This basically involves a pretty large scale of converting transportation monies into a private business and also into personal purchases.”

The Boone County School system has been taking some hard hits financially in the last few years with their budget. There have been layoffs, pay cuts and school closures during this time and there is a possibility of more layoffs for the 2017-18 school year.

“The Boone County administration with the school board through the central office they have been nothing but supportive and nothing but helpful,” said Sutphin. “Mr. Huffman has done an outstanding job in assisting us. This is nothing they were aware of and has taken them by complete shock.”

Sutphin said Boone County School system is the victim of this.

WVSP have not released any names at this time. However, Sutphin said, “There is going to be multiple arrests made.”

At this time there is no timeline as to when these arrests will be made.