Monday, November 30, 2009


On November 19, 2009, the Ramsey County, Minnesota Attorney's Office charged former St. Paul Public Schools employee Sandra Jean Leis with one count of felony Theft by Swindle. In in a criminal complaint, proscecutors allege that the 66 year old former employee stole more than $21,260 from the school system.
Leis is scheduled to make a first appearance in Ramsey County District Court on December 16, 2009.
According to the complaint, school district officials discovered after Leis retired in June of 2009 that she allegedly had falsified a checkbook register, and used a stamp signature of a supervisor's name to write 41 school district checks to herself between September 2005 and January 2009.
Investigators say she covered up the embezzlement by writing a different payee on the check register in the case of each check she wrote to herself. Follow-up revealed that all 41 checks had been deposited into Leis' account at US Bank.
After being questioned by St. Paul Police, Leis admitted she had written checks to herself without permission from her supervisors. Last week wrote a check to the school district for $15,000. That check is being held pending the outcome of the case.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


In Plymouth, Michigan the Fiegel Elementary PTO requires two signatures on each check written. And the Ann Arbor Amateur Hockey Association has spread financial responsibilities among members. On the heels of money being embezzled, the organizations are putting more safeguards in place. Nine people have been charged in southeast Michigan this year with embezzling money in cases involving the church, the hockey association, PTOs and Detroit Public Schools.
Daniel Oliver, director of finance and administration for the archdiocese, said even though a recent embezzlement case at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Grosse Pointe Woods was discussed, the impetus for the Web site -- which they hope to launch by the end 2009 -- was to enable the archdiocese to be more proactive.
A former bookkeeper is charged with stealing more than $90,000. The case is now in Wayne County Circuit Court.
"Nobody wants to be the one to call in and be the person to air the dirty laundry," Oliver said. "What this system does, it allows us to really kind of dig through, ask questions, do some follow-up to see whether or not the claim somebody is making really has some validity to it."
Churches, schools, volunteer groups lose cash to theft. They were trusted parents and volunteers, paid bookkeepers and church members. They handled finances for boosters, athletic clubs, parent-teacher organizations, Catholic parishes and schools.
And when no one was looking, they stole. After being victims of embezzlement, groups in cities like Plymouth, Ann Arbor and Troy, as well as Van Dyke Public Schools in Warren, have put safeguards in place, including requiring multiple signatures on checks, doing background checks on potential bookkeepers and not allowing one person to handle all finances.
The Fiegel Elementary PTO in Plymouth -- where a former treasurer and her husband were charged in May with stealing more than $14,000 -- requires background checks.
The Troy Athens High School Athletic Boosters -- which had a former concession manager, sentenced to five years of probation in 2008, steal $5,800 -- has made changes including that money from concessions be counted by two people, said boosters President LaRue Williams.
A former bookkeeper who handled all of the Ann Arbor Amateur Hockey Association's finances embezzled more than $800,000. Lindsay Aspegren, treasurer of the association's board, said the group now provides more financial training for board members.
Van Dyke Public Schools, where a former secretary was accused in June of stealing $112,000, now reviews banks statements more frequently, said district spokeswoman Renee Burch.
The Archdiocese of Detroit is creating a Web site and phone line for people to give anonymous tips. A former bookkeeper at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Grosse Pointe Woods was charged in September with embezzling more than $90,000.
Daniel Oliver, director of finance and administration for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said he hopes the new anonymous tip service "will deter anyone who might be thinking about doing anything from going forward with it."
Canton Police Detective Tim Wright, who investigated the Fiegel PTO case, said one person should never be put in charge of all of an organization's finances
"You can't trust," he said. "No matter who it is."

Saturday, November 28, 2009


A Chico, California man facing up to 20 years in prison for allegedly embezzling nearly $700,000 from a Catholic charity has once again reset his preliminary hearing in federal court. Thom Randle, 68, was scheduled to appear in court on Friday, but for the 10th time, the status and preliminary hearing has been continued.

Randle is now scheduled to be in court December 18, 2009. He pleaded not guilty at his May 5, 2009 arraignment to multiple counts of mail fraud, computer fraud and money laundering and was released on his own recognizance. The offenses were allegedly committed while Randle served as vice president of finance on the board of directors for the Columbian Retirement Home, operated by the Knights of Columbus.
According to a public relations spokesperson at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento, there is no limit on how many times a hearing can be rescheduled. Continuances are at the discretion of the judge. The spokesperson said it is not unusual for cases involving financial elements (such as embezzlement charges) to be continued several times due to the large amount of paperwork and research involved.
Randle, a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus, served on three Knights councils in Paradise and Chico. He was serving as state secretary at Our Divine Savior Church when he resigned in January 2007, a few months before the end of his term.

Friday, November 27, 2009


A Ten Mile, Tennessee woman has been arrested on allegations of embezzling more than $50,000 from a rural Baptist church where she is treasurer. The Daily Post-Athenian reports that Kelly Maynor, 39, of 10 Mile, was arrested Monday, November 3, 2009 in Meigs County on charges of theft of services and filing false financial statements.

Lakeside Baptist Church in Ten Mile reported more than $50,000 in church funds missing. Meigs County Detective Keith Kile told the newspaper that church leaders contacted authorities a few weeks ago.

A telephone message left at a number listed as Maynor's address was not returned Tuesday.Kile said Maynor apparently spent much of the money for her own personal use.

Maynor posted a $5,000 bond.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


A former youth minister will spend the next nine months in jail after pleading guilty to theft charges on Monday, November 16, 2009. William Charles Lohn appeared before Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler and entered a plea of guilty to theft over $60,000.

Lohn was indicted in August after members of Shelbyville Mills Baptist Church contacted authorities with information that the former youth minister embezzled over $80,000 from church coffers.
According to assistant district attorney Mike Randles, Lohn has agreed to serve 10 years on state probation, subject to serving nine months "day for day," which will be followed by three months of house arrest.
Lohn will also have to make the arrangements for the home confinement and pay for the costs of the electronic monitoring.
Restitution will also be required with Lohn paying back $78,245.25 to the church. Ten percent of that figure, $7,824.52, is due within 30 days and then Lohn will have to pay $655 a month. He will also have to pay court costs and will report to jail on Dec. 16.
Randles told Crigler that Lohn had begun writing himself additional paychecks from the church about three years ago.
At one point, Lohn had repaid some $2,700 and Randles said that the minister "always had the intent to repay the money" but over a period of time, it became "no longer feasible" for Lohn to pay back the rest "and cover up what had been done."
Several members of Lohn's church were in attendance for his plea on Monday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Judy L. Albee, 45, of Shell Lake, the former church secretary and treasurer for Faith Lutheran Church in Spooner, received a five-year prison sentence on Oct. 27, 2009 for stealing more than $13,000 from a church account between December 2006 and January 2009.  This was not her first conviction. She already had served time in federal prison for another case where she embezzled.
In the Faith Lutheran case, Albee was charged with seven different counts related to writing 14 unauthorized church checks to individuals and entities to which the church owed money. The checks were endorsed by the “alleged payees” – names Albee forged – and by Albee herself. The complaint said Washburn County District Judge Eugene Harrington, who is a member of Faith Lutheran, had been alerted by Marilyn Norton, assistant treasurer for the church, that Albee had “endorsed and cashed without the knowledge, permission or consent of church elders, board members or pastor.”
Austin Parenteau, investigator for Washburn County Sheriff’s Office, contacted the payees on the 14 checks and all “confirmed” they had not received the checks.In an int erview with Parenteau on March 3, the complaint said, Albee confessed “to stealing thousands of dollars from the church by forging a number of checks which were then either cashed by her directly or deposited into her personal financial accounts without the church’s knowledge, permission or consent.”
In the complaint, Albee said she stole the funds to cover “delinquent” mortgage payments.
Harrington recused himself from the case because of his membership at Faith Lutheran, and Kenneth Kutz, Burnett County District Court judge, took over. Albee pleaded guilty to theft of more than $10,000 in a business setting; two counts of forgery; theft of $5,000 to $10,000 in a business setting; forgery uttering; and fraudulent writings by a corporation officer.
For theft of business greater than $10,000, Kutz sentenced Albee to three years in prison and three years extended supervision; for forgery, two years in prison and two years extended supervision. The two sentences are to be served consecutively, which means Albee will serve a minimum of five years in prison.
For theft of business greater than $5,000 to $10,000 and the second forgery charge, Albee received three years probation for each, with the sentence withheld.

The three other charges were dismissed but read into the record for sentencing.
Kutz ordered the state to submit a restitution plan against Albee within 60 days.
Kutz ordered Albee to do 100 hours of community service within “the community” each year she is on extended supervision or probation.

A Hillsboro, Ohio man was indicted by a Highland County grand jury on November 3, 2009 on charges of theft and tampering with records after he allegedly embezzled more than $200,000 from an area church.

Dennis L. Butler, 68, was indicted on one count of theft, a third-degree felony, and one count of tampering with records, a third-degree felony.
According to the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, the indictment was the result of an ongoing investigation by detectives with the HCSO into allegations that Butler was embezzling money from a Concord Township church where he had been serving as treasurer for a number of years.
Sheriff Ron Ward said that the investigation was initiated by the HCSO in August after the church board approached the sheriff’s office with concerns over church accounts.
“There were some irregularities on the church accounts that caused concern among board members,” Ward said. “We initiated an investigation in August, and audits of the records showed a misappropriation of church funds that goes back many years.”
The sheriff’s office said the charges were the result of Butler using church money for personal gain or use, as well as creating fictitious accounting records. The funds in question total more than $202,000, and involve a period of more than five years.
During the time period of the theft, Butler was working as a local insurance and investment agent, the sheriff’s office said. Part of the theft case involved misappropriation of funds from annuities owned by the church that Butler managed as an investment adviser.
Ward said that while the church board came forward with the concerns, it was the sheriff’s office that pursued the investigation.
“They came to us with concerns. Once we find that a crime has been committed, we’re ethically required to move forward and charge those involved,” he said. “I feel pretty strongly that in a church environment, it’s a bad situation to prosecute one of your elders. That is not an easy decision. But the board members did the right thing.”
Butler, who is a current member of the Hillsboro Planning Commission, current officer on the Highland County Republican Central Committee, has been president of the Highland County Board of MRDD and was presented the Distinguished Service Award from the Ohio MRDD in October 2008, turned himself in to the sheriff’s office Wednesday and was arraigned in Highland County Common Pleas Court via video arraignment, where bond was set at $10,000.