Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ex-Synagogue Director Sentenced in Embezzlement Scheme in California

The former executive director of the La Jolla synagogue Beth El will spend 18 months in prison for stealing more than $500,000 from his congregation, prosecutors say.
Eric S. Levine, 37, was sentenced for mail fraud Friday in federal court while dozens of his victims looked on.

Several Beth El congregants told U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw about the harm Levine had done to their congregation by embezzling that money.
Others expressed their anger and resentment towards Levine in letters they filed with the court.
“Eric and I worked closely together,” wrote the congregation’s rabbi. “Most of our interactions involved the synagogue’s finances, which means he lied to me every day, every time our paths crossed,” he wrote. “[Now], our diminished staff spends much more time on accounting than on our mission of creating a lively Jewish community in San Diego. It’s hard to know if we’ll ever be the same.”
Court records reveal Levine falsified the synagogue’s books and records to hide his continuing theft, which prosecutors say lasted five years.

In his guilty plea, Levine admitted to misappropriating $394,872.99, but the congregation says its ultimate losses were over $540,000.
According to prosecutors, Levine used his control over the synagogue’s bank account to pay his own bills directly or transfer his personal credit card balance to the congregation’s credit account.
The embezzled money went toward vacations in Hawaii, Mexico and Las Vegas, prosecutors say. Levine also spent thousands of dollars on gym memberships and a personal trainer and purchased expensive leather furnishing and BBQ equipment for his home with the stolen funds.
He hid payments to himself from bookkeepers and executive staff by creating entries for legitimate expenses like “Ritual Fund,” “Rabbi Emeritus” and “High Holidays,” said Laura Duffy, the U.S. Attorney for Southern California. He also created false financial reports and annual budget proposals based on inflated numbers.

“Because of his crime, people lost their jobs, their livelihoods and their lives were changed forever,” the synagogue’s president said.
Duffy said Levine’s deceit started not long after he took the job as executive director in July 2007 and continued until he left the position in Dec. 2013.
“This defendant was a one-man wrecking ball to this congregation, both financially and emotionally, and today the court imposed a fitting sentence for such abhorrent conduct,” Duffy said after Friday’s sentencing.
Levine could have been sentenced to between 27 and 33 months in federal prison but was given the lesser, 18-month sentence in part because he admitted his crime early and cooperated with investigators.

“We didn’t get to indictment, we didn’t get to a trial in this case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Valerie Chu told NBC 7 News. “He was willing to accept responsibility.”
Judge Sabraw ordered Levine to repay $543,000 to the Beth El congregation and placed him on three years of supervised release when he completes his prison term.
Judge Sabraw told the courtroom audience that the case involved “deeply troubling circumstances” because Levine’s theft victimized both his employer and the congregants who shared his life and faith.
“It’s a deception not only of the synagogue, but everyone who makes up the synagogue, so there are hundreds of victims…The sense of betrayal cannot be overstated,” said Sabraw.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Federal indictment for embezzlement returned against ex-church bookkeeper

The former bookkeeper of an Archdiocese of Louisville parish has been charged with embezzling funds.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Tammy Goodlett, 47, of Louisville. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky, Goodlett embezzled $83,191 between Aug. 2010 and Aug. 2013 by means of wire fraud while working as the bookkeeper for St. Gabriel the Archangel Church and School.
The indictment says Goodlett transferred money from St. Gabriel's accounts to her own bank accounts, made unauthorized purchases with a credit card and manipulated records to make unpaid bills appear to have been paid.
In Aug. 2012, federal authorities said Goodlett made an electronic transaction of $4,000 from the St. Gabriel bank account at Fifth Third Bank into her personal account. That transaction involved not only Fifth Third Bank servers located in Kentucky, but Federal Reserve Bank servers in New Jersey.
If convicted, Goodlett could receive a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Former school official convicted of embezzlement, theft

A former business official of the Carterville School District, Unit 5, has been convicted for embezzlement and theft.

Todd Frazier, 32, was sentenced Friday to 366 days in a federal prison after embezzling funds from the Carterville School District. Following his release from prison, Frazier will serve two years of supervised release, pay $100,420.80 in restitution, and serve 200 hours of community service.

Court documents reveal Frazier embezzled roughly $114,000 from August of 2008 until February of 2012. Frazier acted as treasurer and payroll officer for the school district.

Ex-business administrator for Knowlton Township school board guilty of embezzlement

The Knowlton Township school board's former business administrator pleaded guilty today to embezzling about $70,000 from the Warren County school district.
Kevin M. Mulligan, 34, of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree official misconduct before Superior Court Judge Robert B. Reed in Warren County.
Under the plea agreement, New Jersey prosecutors will recommend that he be sentenced to three years in state prison.
Mulligan must pay full restitution to the school district, forfeit his entire state pension and be permanently barred from public employment.
Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced the details this afternoon.
Mulligan admitted that between July and December 2013, he stole about $70,000 by writing fraudulent checks against the district's bank accounts that were made payable to himself or, in one instance, to someone he owed money.
Mulligan began working for the district in June 2013 and resigned abruptly last December.
"Mulligan corruptly used his position to embezzle $70,000 that should have been used for the vital mission of educating students in this kindergarten through sixth-grade school district," Hoffman said in a statement. "It's always a serious crime when a public official steals taxpayer funds, but it's particularly egregious when those who suffer the consequences are young children."
Deputy Attorney General Mallory Shanahan prosecuted the case. The charges were the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and the Division of Criminal Justice.
Sentencing before Reed is set for Oct. 24.
Elie Honig, director of the Division of Criminal Justice, said a prison term will send a stern message.
"By sending this school administrator to prison, we will deter other officials who might consider stealing public monies to address their personal financial problems," Honig said. "We urge anyone with information about the misuse of school funds or resources to contact us confidentially so we can investigate and prosecute those responsible."
As business administrator, Mulligan was a signatory on the district's three checking accounts and was responsible for paying all of the district's bills and its payroll. The state's investigation revealed that Mulligan created four fraudulent checks totaling $66,550 that he made payable to himself, but that he entered into the district's computer system as checks to various approved vendors or recipients.
The general account required that checks be signed by the school board president and its treasurer, as well as Mulligan, but Mulligan had signature stamps for them, prosecutors said.
For each false check from the general account, Mulligan went into the check printing software and changed the name and address of the pre-approved vendor or recipient in the "remit to" section to his own name and address. After printing the check, he re-entered the system to change that section back to the approved party.
Mulligan also wrote a school district check for $1,000 payable to a hockey instructor he hired for a youth hockey camp he operated, prosecutors said. In addition, he overpaid himself $600 on his first paycheck, and overpaid himself $1,869 on a check he received as reimbursement for waiving certain pension benefits.
The thefts were discovered after Mulligan resigned. School district officials received a canceled check for $10,362 dated December 13, 2013, which was made payable to Mulligan, but was entered into district records as a payment to the district's heating oil supplier. District staff checked with the vendor, which had not received the payment.
The district conducted an audit and discovered additional fraudulent checks made payable to Mulligan, prosecutors said.

DA drops embezzlement charges against coach, pending further investigation

Prosecutors have filed a motion to drop charges pending further investigation against the head football coach at Vanden High School, who was arrested late last month on suspicion of embezzlement.

Levon Haynes, 42, who was also a campus monitor at Vanden, was arrested in August after police said an investigation showed he had embezzled thousands of dollars in funds raised for Vanden High School football. He has been placed on paid administrative leave and has been free on $15,000 bail.

Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams said the filing does not mean the case has been cleared completely. The notice, she said, indicates that the intake deputy prosecutor is seeking more information before making an informed final decision on whether or not to prosecute. Asked how long the further investigation might take, she said it would not go on indefinitely and that ultimately if a decision is made not to prosecute a notice of intent not to prosecute would be filed "but that has not happened at this point."

Travis Unified School District Superintendent Kate Wren Gavlak declined to comment on the latest action in the case.

And Travis School Board President Ivery Hood, who had not heard the news until told by The Reporter, declined to comment saying he doesn't "get involved in personnel issues.

District officials had called police into the matter in mid August after, they said, they had commenced their own investigation. Fairfield police have said the matter involves thousands of dollars and may involve more than one sports fund.

Haynes declined comment on Tuesday but his wife, Stephanie said the family is "happy the first step of justice for coach Haynes has been taken" and adding that they "look forward to resolving matters with Travis Unified." She said the coach and their entire family remain "committed to the district, players and community."

Linden Unified bookkeeper pleads guilty to embezzlement

A former Linden Unified School District bookkeeper has pleaded guilty to embezzlement after going on a personal shopping spree on the district’s credit.
Cynthia Deann Haley worked in the accounts payable department and was responsible for making credit card purchases for the school district. But prosecutors say she took advantage of her access to credit cards and racked up thousands of dollars making personal purchases.
She bought bedding, a stereo, aquarium supplies for her pet snake and a long list of other merchandise, Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor said.
Haley was on medical leave when the discrepancies were discovered. Her fill-in noticed the unusual charges.
Haley, who is represented by local attorney Doug Goss, pleaded guilty on Monday to grand theft by embezzlement, a charge that was reduced to a misdemeanor because she cooperated with authorities.
Taylor said Haley has paid the $14,000 loss down to about $1,200. She is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 26 with the expectation she will pay off the remaining balance by then.
Haley faces up to one year in jail, but Taylor said the actual sentence likely will be “substantially” reduced if she continues cooperating.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Woman sentenced in embezzlement case in Texas

 The former business manager of a Central Texas school district has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for embezzling more than $500,000 from the district.
Patty E. Smith was sentenced Friday in federal court in Austin and ordered to pay restitution for stealing the money from the Lohn school district, about 60 miles east of San Angelo.
Federal prosecutors said in a statement that the 58-year-old Smith stole federal money designated for the district.
She pleaded guilty in June to charges that include one count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds.
She acknowledged that she embezzled from the district from 2006 to 2012 and used the money for her personal benefit.