Monday, May 31, 2010

Meridian, Mississippi School Embezzlement Investigation Underway

An investigation is underway into embezzlement involving a Meridian school.Officials say the case involves funds at Crestwood Elementary. Interim superintendent, Dr. Terry Larabee, says most, if not all, of the roughly $4,000 involved, has been returned. He says it was money that came from a fundraiser last fall at the school. Although school officials are not confirming the identity of the person involved, Larabee says school policy prohibits the involvement of school officials with PTA funds.
"We have a statutory obligation to report to authorities any crime that happens on school property, and we've met that obligation in this situation," said Larabee.
Larabee says the school employee alleged to be involved with the theft is no longer working for the district.
At this time the Meridian Police Department is conducting its own investigation into the case. At last check, formal charges had not been filed.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ex-worker embezzled from RPI in New York

A former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute worker was arrested last week and charged with second-degree grand larceny for allegedly embezzling from the institution. Christine Dickson, a 53-year-old Troy resident, is believed to have used a RPI-issued purchasing card to steal more than $100,000 over a 14-month period. Following an internal investigation, RPI concluded Dickson had used the card to rack up $82,000 in cash advances, $15,000 in car rentals, $4,900 for cruise and airline travel, and $1,500 in charges to
Dickson surrendered to police on May 17, 2010, after learning a warrant had been issued for her arrest, Troy police said. Dickson was subsequently released under the supervision of probation. She was not required to post bail.
"The case is pending," Rensselaer County District Attorney Richard McNally said today.
Dickson couldn't be reached for comment today. She was interviewed several times by the Times Union prior to a story last month on what was then an ongoing police investigation.
"Yes, I did misuse my credit card," Dickson said then.
"Was it $100,000 worth?" she asked. "No."
Dickson's supervisor, Dale Masten, in interviews said Dickson had an elaborate system for keeping the credit card charges hidden. Masten said the system unraveled, however, when Dickson was out of the office serving on the jury for the three-week trial of Adrian Thomas, who in October was convicted of killing his four-month-old son.
While Dickson was away, unusual purchase authorizations came through to Masten, leading the supervisor to suspend Dickson's RPI purchasing card.
RPI fired Dickson in November from her business coordinator position at the School of Architecture. Masten was also fired by RPI, despite in 2003 being named a Pillar of Rensselaer, the highest honor the school gives employees.
Masten's termination letter says Dickson's alleged thefts occurred from Aug. 31, 2008 to Nov. 13, 2008. It also notes the investigation found "purchasing and travel logs containing forged signatures" for as far back as 2005.
Dickson, during the interviews last month, would not comment on why she committed the thefts or what she did with the money.
"I am living my worst nightmare because of what I did," she said.
An RPI spokesman today declined to discuss details of the case, saying the school's policy is to avoid comment on personnel matters.
"We are aware of the arrest in this case," spokesman Mark Marchand added. "We are cooperating with law enforcement in this process."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Toms River, New Jersey woman sentenced to prison for theft from St. Vincent De Paul

Despite a 57-year-old Toms River woman's failing health that necessitates constant use of an oxygen tank, she was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for stealing more than $18,000 from charity. "She stole from the poor to give to the rich," Senior Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Martin Anton said of Stephanie Iacopino before she was sentenced for the theft.
Iacopino, of Encinatas Drive, admitted in January that she stole more than $18,000 from the St. Vincent de Paul Society of the Church of St. Martha in Point Pleasant and gambled the money away in Atlantic City.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society is a charity that helps the poor.
Anton said she stole the money to fuel a gambling habit.
In fact, in apologizing to Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson for the theft, Iacopino, who carried a portable oxygen tank with her, said she knew what she was doing was wrong when she placed the charity's ATM card into the cash machine at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City.
When she entered her guilty plea, Iacopino admitted that she stole the card from her husband, who at the time was the treasurer of the charity, and used it to make a series of withdrawals.
The thefts occurred between July of 2008 and April of 2009.
Iacopino was charged with second-degree theft, which carries a term of imprisonment from five to 10 years, as a result of an investigation by prosecutor's Detective James Conroy. She pleaded guilty to a downgraded charge of third-degree theft in a plea bargain that called for a four-year prison term.
Hodgson shaved a year off of that after the defendant's attorney, Vincent Falcetano, told the judge his client has suffered a series of strokes and has been hospitalized several times since she entered her plea. Falcetano told the judge Iacopino requires an oxygen machine 24 hours a day.
Hodgson said Iacopino could be a good candidate for the state Parole Board's Intensive Supervision Program, in which nonviolent offenders are released early from prison and placed under strict supervision. The judge ordered the defendant to make $18,305 in restitution to the charity from which she stole.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Milwaukee Sacred Heart congregation, fired executive trade claims in lawsuits

From its headquarters in Franklin, the development office for the Priests of the Sacred Heart raises $20 million a year to support a monastery there and priests working around the world. Some of those donations allegedly did not make it to the charitable end for which they were intended.
According to a civil lawsuit pending in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, a former executive director of the organization's fund-raising arm has "misappropriated significant sums of money" from the congregation for personal expenses, and now a self-insurance fund that covers the Priests of the Sacred Heart's losses wants the money back.
"One of the things that saddens me is the people who give believe they're supporting a much higher mission," said Cynthia Mack, a lawyer representing the Priests of the Sacred Heart. "It's unfortunate he took advantage of them."
The former executive, Patrick Thompson, 48, of Greenfield, denies any wrongdoing and has countersued the organization that employed him, his parents and siblings for years, contending that it breached his employment contract when it fired him in 2008 and owes him nearly $4 million.
Lawyers for the insurance fund, which is based in Illinois, declined to comment.
Mack said most of the congregation's losses were covered by the insurance fund, and described them only as "substantial." Thompson's attorney, Frank Terschan, said a letter from the insurance company to his client prior to the lawsuit mentioned a figure of about $567,000. He declined any other comment about the case.
Court records show that Thompson had parlayed his long service for the Priests of the Sacred Heart, and friendship with a former priest who ran it, into a well-paid position. According to his counterclaim, Thompson had been promised a salary and benefits package worth $180,000 a year, plus 30 days of paid vacation a year and $20,000 a year to pay for his children's tuition. Thompson's father and mother both worked for the Priests of the Sacred Heart, and he started there in 1976. He became executive director of the Development Office and Congregation in 1993. From then until his dismissal, he received only positive evaluations, he contends in court records.
According to Thompson's counterclaim, in 2003 the Provincial Treasurer, Father Brian McCullough, offered him a contract through 2026, with the generous salary and benefits, which Thompson accepted.
McCullough is no longer associated with the Priests of the Sacred Heart and is no longer a priest, said Mary Gorski, director of communications for the congregation. She said that his departure was not related to the claims against Thompson, and that the decision to leave the priesthood was a result of his "own vocational discernment."
McCullough could not be reached.
Mack, the attorney for the congregation, said Thompson raised the claim of what amounts to a lifetime employment contract only after the insurer sued, and apparently based it on some letters to him from McCullough.
About 50 people work at the development office of Priests of the Sacred Heart, Gorski said. It uses sophisticated direct-mailing operations and other outreach, including a Web site, to solicit donations from around the country. It also encourages backers to make bequests, set up trusts or gift annuities and other tax-structured ways to donate.
The money supports Sacred Heart School of Theology, which has about 100 seminarians, and 140 students overall, according to its Web site, which lists the school as the largest Catholic seminary in North America focusing on preparing men older than 30 for the Catholic priesthood. It also teaches English to the religious from other countries.
Priests of the Sacred Heart also is developing a 180-unit apartment building in Franklin for active and retired priests, employees and non-priests older than 55. The first phase of the project is expected to open later this year.
While the congregation is considered a religious charitable organization to which contributions are tax deductible, the development office that Thompson ran is organized as a Wisconsin non-stock corporation.
Gorski, the communications director, said about 83 cents of every dollar raised goes to supported activities, with the balance paying for continued fund raising.
Thompson's alleged financial improprieties came to light after new management came to the province in 2007and implemented new procedures for the development office to share financial information, Mack said. She said Thompson gave incomplete or inadequate responses, which led to his termination.
The office used an outside auditor, but it failed to see the problems, Mack said. After Thompson left, the province hired a different auditor, which found greater problems.
Terschan, Thompson's attorney, would not comment on any of the other allegations against his client and said Thompson also would not comment.
In a pleading filed this month, Mack argues that Thompson's counterclaim should be dismissed. The next hearing in the case is set for June 23.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Former Kentucky car dealer who stole from church sentenced

Former car dealer Delbert Ault was sentenced Thursday for stealing from his church, Centenary United Methodist.

Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael sentenced Ault, former operator of Ault Chevrolet in Lawrenceburg and briefly an official with the Bluegrass Stallions professional basketball team, to spend two days in jail. However, Ault received credit for the time he spent in jail after his arrest last fall.
Ault had pleaded guilty in March to amended charges of misdemeanor theft by deception and misdemeanor theft by failure to make required disposition of property. The judge imposed 12-month sentences on each count, then probated the sentences which will run concurrently. In addition, Ault was ordered to perform community service and pay restitution.
Ault was indicted in November on a charge of theft by deception for allegedly making inappropriate charges on a gas credit card belonging to Centenary United Methodist. He was also charged with failure to make required disposition of property for allegedly accepting money from the Henry Clay High School girls' basketball team for transporting them on church buses and not giving the money to the church. Ault drove and oversaw buses for Centenary at the time.
Ault and his attorney, Henry Hughes of Lexington, declined comment.
Ault is scheduled to report to the Fayette County jail at 7 a.m. May 29. He will be released at 7 a.m. May 30.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Former Virginia priest’s appeal denied; convictions upheld for embezzlement

A former Catholic priest convicted of embezzling from his churches has had his appeal denied by the Virginia Court of Appeals, according to court records.
The court agreed in October to hear the appeal of Rodney L. Rodis, who claimed that his federal convictions for mail fraud and money laundering should have prevented him from being prosecuted in Louisa County Circuit Court.
Rodis, 54, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison in February 2008 and to a 13-year active prison sentence in October for 10 felony theft counts in Louisa.
Authorities in Louisa have said the secretly married priest took more than $1 million from the collection plate and donations of two parishes, money which was destined for church upkeep and charitable purposes. Rodis wired at least $515,000 to the Philippines, where he bought multiple properties in his native country, authorities have said.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Rodis is incarcerated in a low-security federal prison in Butner, N.C. Authorities have said Rodis will begin serving his sentence out of Louisa’s courts after he completes his federal prison time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SeaTac, Iowa man denies embezzlement charges

King County prosecutors have charged former Parent Teacher Association treasurer David Glass with embezzling over $60,000 of the Chinook Middle School PTA's funds. They allege that he used these funds to bail out his business, and he was confronted in November when the PTA's account was down $400. Glass recently pled not guilty to a charge of theft and has paid back $64,000.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Former Head Of University of Rhode Island School Of Education Sentenced For Two Embezzlement Schemes That Netted $2.2 Million

Robert D. Felner, 59, formerly of Jamestown, Rhode Island and the former director of the University of Rhode Island’s School of Education, was sentenced yesterday to 63 months in federal prison for embezzling a total of about $2.2 million from URI and the University of Louisville where he had been an administrator. According to prosecutors, Felner, together with a co-conspirator and former student, Thomas Schroeder of Port Byron, Illinois, engaged in a scheme to embezzle $1.64 million from URI's School of Education which he founded, plus another $560,000 from the University of Louisville where he later became a dean. Felner was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $510,000 to the University of Louisville, $1.64 million to URI and $88,750 to the Rock Island County Council on Addiction in Illinois that authorities say the defendants also defrauded. Felner was the director of the URI School of Education from 1996 to 2003 and then became a dean at the University of Louisville. Prosecutors alleged that from 2001 to 2008, Felner and Schroeder funnelled funds into a dummy nonprofit organization called the National Center on Public Education and Prevention. They were indicted in October 2008 with 10 counts of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and income tax evasion. Felner plead guilty this past January. The two were also charged with tax evasion for the years 2002 - 2007.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Psychiatrist to examine accused Illinois arsonist

An Ottawa woman, charged with setting fire to two houses in March, will be examined by a Central Illinois psychiatrist to evaluate her mental status at the time of the incidents.

La Salle County Circuit Court Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. granted a motion by Public Defender Tim Cappellini to have Dr. Robert E. Chapman, a forensic psychiatrist from Bloomington, schedule an examination of Terri L. James, 42, for possible evidential use in upcoming court proceedings.
According to official records, the alleged arson fires were related to James' unauthorized use of a credit card from the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Ottawa to charge "in excess of $100,000" and later paid "said credit card statements with funds" from the church.
The criminal complaint also accuses James of altering church financial records to conceal the alleged embezzlement. She has been church administrative assistant for several years — editing the weekly bulletin and handling the church's financial affairs.
James is suspected of starting a fire that seriously damaged a South Side home and attempting to set fire to another structure as a diversion on the city's West Side March 17. She was arrested and charged with arson and attempted arson after alert neighbors told police about a similar-looking van at both locations shortly before the fires were discovered.
The mother of three and the wife of former State's Attorney Michael James is now facing an aggregated prison term of up to 45 years.
Owners of the damaged home, Carol Kozlowski and Vicki Smith, were fellow parishioners and officers at the church with James. Smith is the chairwoman of the church's board of trustees while Kozlowski is the organization's moderator who conducts various church board meetings.
James has pleaded not guilty to all charges. She remains in county jail under $200,000 bond.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Arrest made in Georgia church embezzlement case

A former church secretary has been arrested and charged with 332 counts of theft by taking in reference to alleged embezzlement.

On May 12, the Haralson County Sheriff’s Department arrested Dawn Taylor Robinson, 40, of 7345 Hwy. 120, Buchanan, in connection to an alleged financial fraud complaint logged in February by Victory Fellowship’s Reverend Sidney Garner.
According to the complaint, Garner believes the former member and church secretary of took between $200,000 and $400,000 over a 10-year period.
Robinson was released Thursday afternoon from the Haralson County Jail on a $300,000 bond.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation assisted with the case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation may be asked to assist because some of the allegedly stolen money could have been deposited in an Oxford, Ala., bank.
The total amount of money taken has not been determined, and Public Information Officer Jim Beck said more details will come out in the District Attorney’s indictment.
Victory Fellowship of 950 Hwy. 27 North, Bremen, has around 250 members. The money that is missing came out of the church’s general funds, most of which was earmarked for building improvements.
“That pretty much drained the building fund,” Garner said, adding that the church is debt-free and not in any financial danger.
The members of the church have been supportive of the decision to press charges, and Garner said they would like to see restitution in the case. “With that large of an amount of money, you can do a lot of good things, as far as ‘kingdom’ work. There’s a lot of people in need, ministries to be supported, useful things that can be done with that money,” he said

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Aurora, Ilinois Pastor charged with swindling more than $470K

The pastor of a church in Aurora has been charged with three felony counts of theft by deception for allegedly bilking three men, including one member of his church, out of more than $470,000. The pastor, 49-year-old Howard Richmond, of the 2900 block of Brossman Avenue in Naperville, was taken into custody about 6 a.m. Wednesday without incident after Aurora Police executed a search warrant at his home, according to a release from Aurora police.
Richmond heads Life Ministries, a storefront church located at 4054 Fox Valley Center Drive in Aurora.
The criminal charges are the culmination of an ongoing Aurora Police investigation that began more than 13 months ago when a 60-year-old Skokie doctor who is a member of the congregation at Life Ministries, accused Richmond of swindling around $400,000 from him between December of 2008 and March of 2009. The doctor said that Richmond approached him following a service about investing money to help purchase the shopping center property where the church is currently located, and to help fund the building of a new church.
According to the victim, Richmond apparently had documents indicating he had several million dollars in the bank but due to a complicated business partnership, could not access the funds until a later date. Richmond also allegedly promised the doctor a healthy return on his investment, the release said. After initially giving Richmond $11,000 the doctor handed over money on several more occasions when Richmond gave him differing reasons as to why he couldn’t access the money from the previous business relationship.
Richmond allegedly used the same ruse to deceive a 43-year-old Aurora man with whom he had a previous business relationship out of $8,000 in May, 2009; and a 64-year-old Chicago dentist who had purchased some church related DVDs, out of more than $67,000 between July and August of 2009.
It is not clear what Richmond did with the money, police said.
In lauding the work of lead detective Scott Reid, Aurora Police Investigations Lieutenant Paul Nelson said, “This case was complicated, tedious and time consuming. Investigator Reid had to scour through thousands of pages of bank and other legal documents and piece together intricate details that eventually led to securing the charges. He did an outstanding job.”
Richmond’s bond call is pending in DuPage County Court

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Mexico State Auditor Hector Balderas Finds Financial Disarray in Risk Review of Lovington Municipal Schools

Today, State Auditor Hector Balderas issued a risk advisory to the Lovington Municipal Schools for the fiscal years 2004-2007. The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) first listed the school district on the OSA’s At-Risk Advisory report in September 2009 due to the school district’s failure to submit a financial audit on an annual basis. After the release of the At-Risk Advisory report, discrepancies pertaining to school funds were brought to the Auditor’s attention and he initiated a risk review, which included an on-site evaluation of the District’s financial records.

“Properly managing public school funds must be a top priority,” said Balderas in a statement released today. “I want to ensure that every penny allocated to our children’s education is accounted for and well-managed.”
The review expresses grave concern over the school district’s repeated failure in preparing financial statements for every fund year after year. Furthermore, the independent public accountant was unable to opine on the District’s financial statements in fiscal year 2007.
In addition, the OSA expressed deep concern over the lack of internal financial controls and record keeping. According to Auditor Balderas, the District’s lack of fiscal transparency creates severe risks for fraud and misappropriation of taxpayer funds, which may result in a loss or reduction of student services.
“I’m recommending an immediate corrective action plan for the school district,” Balderas added. “The need for swift action by the District is further highlighted by the recent embezzlement charges brought against a former District employee. This incident may be an indicator of the District’s failure to implement effective internal controls, and the District should move rapidly to decrease its susceptibility to financial fraud.”
During the review process, another alarming finding was brought to the Auditor’s attention. Cash in the Educational Retirement Act clearing and payroll clearing accounts has not been recorded in the general ledger. It appears that approximately $1,478,023 and $14,801,345 cleared the accounts, according to the OSA. This may indicate that these transactions are not being accounted for as expenditures and, therefore, may be omitted in the financial statements and budget information. In addition, there are over 25 agency funds with unexplained beginning fund balances that differ from the prior year ending balances.
On April 23, 2010, OSA staff met with District leadership and they assured the OSA that they are currently addressing all concerns. The OSA has said it will continue to communicate with the District and monitor their progress. Furthermore, the OSA will formally communicate with various state and federal oversight agencies, including the PED. These agencies will evaluate and enforce all options allowable under law to assist the District in resolving its adverse fiscal condition.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Accused Morristown, Tennessee church embezzler in court Tuesday


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Delaware crime: Embezzler charged with stealing from church

An Ogletown woman convicted of embezzling from a bank three years ago was arrested again this month
for taking money from a Greenville church where she was employed, police said.Shannon G. Tuso, 39, of the 100 block of Brewster Drive in the Sycamore Gardens development, was charged May 3 by New Castle County police with one count of theft under $1,500 for obtaining money by fraudulent means -- a misdemeanor.Until March 11, Tuso was an administrative associate at Christ Church Christiana Hundred in Greenville.According to court records, Tuso -- in her responsibility of handling the church's payroll --
gave herself a $1,000 raise in her monthly salary in December, which she was not authoried to do.
Tuso was hired at Christ Church on May 5, 2008, about a year after she was convicted in federal court
of embezzling $135,000 from Bank of America. She was to work in the management of resources and
handle payables and payroll.Tuso left the church Feb. 16 on medical leave and planned to return in early March, but she never did, Christ Church Rector Ruth Lawson Kirk said.yuso was terminated March 11 after the allegations of misappropriation came to light.On March 17, Tuso was charged with violating her probation on the embezzlement conviction because she lied to her probation officer about handling money on the job, according to court records. She appeared in federal court April 21 to answer to that charge, which was filed less than a month before her three years of supervised release expired.According to court records, Tuso admitted to intentionally deceiving the officer by stating on several occasions that she did not have access to funds at her former employer, Christ Church, when in fact, she did."U.S. District Court Judge Gregory M. Sleet sentenced Tuso to two months in prison May 5, to commence on June 14 when her daughter finishes school, and one year of supervised release.At her April 25, 2007, sentencing in U.S. District Court on the felony embezzlement charge, Tuso, who worked in Bank of America's payroll department, said she stole $135,000 to save the lives of her ex-husband and 5-year-old daughter, who were being hounded by a New Jersey drug dealer over a $25,000 debt her ex-husband had incurred.
Tuso told Sleet at that time that she knew what she was doing was wrong, but did it to protect her
child.The judge sentenced her to six hours in prison and three years of supervised release. She was also
ordered to return $80,719 to the Bank of America.Kirk, of Christ Church, said she had no knowledge
of Tuso's felony arrest and had done no background check before hiring her two years ago.
Kirk, who became rector in 2007, has been in the ministry for 21 years and said this is the first time
there had been a need for a criminal investigation of a member of her church's staff.
"Now I know that I have to do a state criminal background check and a federal one as well," Kirk
said, referring to the need to balance greater vigilance with the church's mission of mercy and
justice."Sometimes that means that we're wounded by events," she said. "One of my jobs is to rebuild the
trust and integrity."Kirk informed the congregation about the allegations in a May 10 letter and said the church will make changes in its accounting practices, as recommended by an auditor.
Kirk also told congregants that the church is "keenly aware of our responsibility for your gifts and
contributions ... and remains fully committed to the careful management of the resources you entrust to
us."The Episcopal parish traces its founding to the du Pont family and remains near the family's original
1803 home and graveyard. Church membership was 1,980 in 2005, with a $1.5 million operating
budget, making it the largest in the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Virginia church secretary found guilty of embezzlement

Parish secretary found guilty of embezzlement. Debra Lee Epps, former secretary at Church Church, Smithfield, VA, pled guilty April 30 in Circuit Court to eight counts of embezzlement and one count each of forging and uttering checks. During the trial, Ms. Epps apologized to the congregation for embezzling more than $300,000, according to the Associated Press. Wayne Farmer, prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Virginia, told the court that Mrs. Epps took the money over a 10-year period beginning in 1998. He said Mrs. Epps told investigators she used the money to pay for school tuition, credit card bills, horseback riding lessons, and her family's annual trip to Florida. Mrs. Epps faces up to 180 years in prison when she returns to court for sentencing on July 7

Friday, May 14, 2010

University of Minnesota employee sentenced on embezzlement charge

The University of Minnesota contracts manager for the Office for Technology Commercialization was sentenced Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court on one felony count of theft by swindle.While James David Hines worked as an independent contractor for Wayzata patent attorney Hugh Jaeger, he allegedly embezzled approximately $40,000 through various unauthorized U.S. Bank check deposits and telephone transfers from April 2005 through January 2007, according to the Hennepin County criminal complaint.
Hennepin County Judge Joseph Klein sentenced Hines to 90 days electronic home monitoring in addition to a five-year probationary period, which will begin June 1.
Hines was also ordered to pay roughly $27,000 in restitution to Jaeger as well as $5,000 in punitive damages to the state of Minnesota.
“It was a well-reasoned decision by the court,” Jaeger said. “The Hennepin County court system did a fantastic job.”
On Feb. 17, Hines pled guilty to one of eight felony embezzlement charges brought against him by Jaeger. He pled guilty to depositing one of Jaeger’s $4,482 payroll checks into his personal account on Oct. 16, 2006, according to the complaint.
Klein amended Hines’ original guilty plea to include the $27,000 in restitution for damages that would have been included in the other dropped charges, Klein said during the sentencing.
Klein said he will be releasing a memorandum within the next few days addressing the rationale behind his restitution claim decision.
According to Jaeger’s restitution claim, approximately $18,000 dollars stemmed from four forged payroll checks. An additional $5,000 appeared from an unauthorized phone bank transfer and $19,000 in embezzled funds from Jaeger’s South Carolina rental property.
The claim also reported roughly $7,500 in allegedly stolen computer-related electronics, for which Hines had also been facing theft charges.
For his job, Jaeger authorized Hines to deposit payroll and rental property checks into the attorney’s U.S. Bank account.
Hines then would allegedly fill out counter deposit slips for these checks with his personal U.S. Bank account number, allowing the money to be transferred to him, according to the criminal complaint.
A large number of checks presented as evidence to The Minnesota Daily demonstrate such deposit patterns.
However, a gray area still remained as to whether Jaeger ever authorized Hines such use of his finances.
Hines’ attorney, James Ventura, said the deposits were authorized by Jaeger at the time they occurred.
Moreover, the deposit slips from Hines’ alleged banking patterns remained on record at Jaeger’s office, allowing Jaeger to trace the checks directly to Hines’ bank account.
“That is not the act of a guy who is stealing,” Ventura said, referring to the fact that Hines left such a visible paper trail.
In spite of this, Jaeger maintains that his firm never authorized such allocation of funds.
Hines began working with Jaeger in October 2001, taking on various duties for the law firm including paralegal work, technology assistance and the management of Jaeger’s South Carolina condominium.
Jaeger said that Hines left after being notified of Jaeger’s plans to bring in an accounting firm with an interest in auditing the firm’s financial records.
I think he knew that I was going to figure it out,” Jaeger said.
In the summer of 2007, Wayzata police began an investigation of Hines based on computer theft claims purported by Jaeger, according to the investigation report.
Wayzata police closed the case in November 2007 because the employment and personal history between both Hines and Jaeger suggested it would better be solved through civil actions, the report said.
According to the report, Hines has a criminal history similar to his current charge. He received three years of unsupervised probation for a felony grand theft charge in South Dakota in 1997 and a year of probation for a 1998 theft by swindle charge in Minneapolis.
It remains unclear how this sentencing will affect Hines’ employment with the University.
“There is no change in his status at this time,” University spokesman Daniel Wolter said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. “This is very new information, however, so it’s fair to say the University is reviewing it.”
His duties in the OTC largely pertain to reviewing technology transfer agreements for the department, according to an online University biography.
In this position, Hines oversees patented technology products resulting from University research. He then works to license the patented work with outside companies.
Hines declined to comment after the sentencing

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Orlando, Florida School Resource Officer Accused Of Embezzling $200K

A school resource officer for the Orlando Police Department was accused of money laundering Wednesday.

Police said Officer Amy Bretches, who has received several honors and commendations for her service, stole $200,000 worth of FEMA money.
Orlando's city attorney said Bretches set up an account using a city ID number and directed FEMA to deposit $200,000 into the account when FEMA began handing out hurrican cleanup funding.
Authorities said Bretches did not spend the money deposited into her account. They said she made money from the interest, at least $20,000.
The city of Orlando found the missing money in 2008, according to authorities, and froze the account after doing an audit. Shortly after the audit, Bretches retired from the Police Department.
Bretches has been charged with money laundering and is out on bond.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Delaware Church secretary charged with theft

A Seaford woman who worked as a financial secretary for a church was arrested last week for allegedly stealing money from the church, police said.

Penny L. Kimbrough, 51, was charged Friday with theft, falsifying business records, three counts of unlawful use of a credit card and racketeering.
Seaford police spokesman Lt. Richard Jamison said investigators received information last month from officials at St. John’s Church on Pine Street that their financial secretary was allegedly using funds from church accounts.
An investigation revealed that Kimbrough, who had been employed by the church for more than three years, had unlawfully obtained a credit card using the church’s name, written checks to herself and used the church’s credit cards for personal use.
Kimbrough was released in lieu of $66,000 unsecured bail pending a court hearing, Jamison said.

Former Utah school administrator faces felony charges

Police arrested former Garfield County School District administrator Justin Baugh Thursday. Baugh faces three felony counts of misuse of public money, communications fraud and tampering with a witness. The first two charges are second degree felonies, and tampering with a witness a third degree felony.
The Garfield County Attorney’s office says Baugh stole between $50,000 to $80,000 while serving as the district’s Business Administrator.
Baugh's first court appearance is scheduled for May 13th. If convicted, he could face up to 35 years in prison

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


On Tuesday, May 4, 2010, the Highland County Grand Jury issued a 17 count indictment against , James A. Blaine, age 61, currently of San Antonio Texas, and formerly of Greenfield, Ohio (Highland County) related to a theft case involving the Good Shepherd Church in Madison Township, where he formerly served as pastor. The counts involve 13 counts of Forgery, each a felony of the fifth degree; one count of Unauthorized Use of Property, a felony of the fourth degree; one count of Forgery, a felony of the third degree, and two counts of Aggravated Theft, each a felony of the third degree.
The charges are the result of a seven month long investigation by Highland County Sheriff’s Office Detectives into allegations that James A. Blaine stole money from the church, which he facilitated by forging names and documents that were then submitted to financial institutions, where Blaine obtained money in the name of the church for his personal use. The incident was alleged to take place over a period of 2004 to 2009.
Blaine was originally arrested on April 27, 2010, on one count of Theft filed in Highland County Court, when he returned to Ohio from Texas to attend a bankruptcy hearing on a case he initiated. Blaine was arraigned on April 28, 2010, by Judge David Mckenna, sitting by assignment in County Court. The case was then presented to the Grand Jury on May 4, 2010, where the additional charges were issued. Blaine will be scheduled for an arraignment in Highland County Common Pleas Court before The Honorable Judge Rocky Coss in the near future. Blaine remains incarcerated at the Highland County Justice Center pending his arraignment in Common Pleas Court.

FBI Raid Home of Ocean County Toms River New Jersey Board of Education Superintendent Michael J Ritacco

Federal agents undertaking a public corruption investigation seized a Mercedes-Benz and carried away dozens of boxes today from the home and office of an Ocean County official who for decades has presided over one of New Jersey’s largest school districts. More than a dozen investigators from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service arrived before 8 a.m. at the Seaside Park home of Michael J. Ritacco, longtime superintendent of the Toms River Regional Board of Education. They left several hours later after carting off unmarked boxes, driving away the car and photographing the three-story house and backyard pool, which lies one block from the beach.
Agents also executed raids at the school district’s administrative offices and at the home of a district employee.
FBI spokesman Bryan Travers confirmed the operations but declined to comment on the nature of the investigation. But a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case said it was corruption related. The official declined to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.
Ritacco has not been charged with anything.
A spokeswoman for the district, Tammi Millar, said agents had executed a search warrant and delivered a subpoena requesting records.
“We are cooperating fully,” she said.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman declined to comment.
The raids came on the heels of heated statewide debates about school spending and two days after voters statewide rejected 58 percent of school budgets. Toms River’s $195 million budget was among the minority that passed. Investigators gave no indication today that the raids were in any way tied to the vote.
With more than 17,500 students and three high schools, Toms River is the fourth largest school district in the state.
Ritacco, who did not respond to messages left at his home today, has worked for the district for roughly 40 years. He became superintendent in 1991 and is something of a local icon.
The 62-year-old has a reputation as an ambitious and business-minded administrator who is a former chairman of the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce. He is a vice president of the Toms River Police Foundation. And the district’s Ritacco Center — a 3,500-seat arena that opened in 2003 to host sporting events, concerts and trade shows — is named in his honor.
“He is certainly a well-know person, and he has been in that position a long time,” Toms River Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher said. “I’ve never heard an adverse thing about him.”
Ritacco also served on the education committee for Gov. Chris Christie’s transition team. After a news conference today at a beach club in Sea Bright to commemorate Earth Day, Christie said he knew nothing about the probe nor how it was tied to Ritacco.
“I hope he is not in trouble. If he is, he’s going to have to pay the price,” said Christie, who as U.S. attorney made a name for himself prosecuting public officials.
Also today, agents searched the Toms River home of Donna M. Mansfield, 42, who has worked for the district for 11 years and manages a cafe in the school administration building, according to public records and Millar, the spokeswoman. Attempts to contact Mansfield today were unsuccessful.
With a salary of $231,000, Ritacco is among New Jersey’s highest paid school superintendents. He is also superintendent of the Seaside Heights Borough School District and runs a business, MJ RIT, Inc. out of his home, according to a state financial disclosure form requiring him to list all sources of income in excess of $2,000.
The president of the Toms River Regional Board of Education, Betty Vasil, said she did not know what investigators were seeking, but she said the district had nothing to hide. She also defended Ritacco.
“The board has always had the utmost respect for Mr. Ritacco,” Vasil said. “Until we know more about the investigation, our confidence remains.”

Monday, May 10, 2010

Clyde Hill, Washington PTSA exec charged with embezzlement

The former treasurer of a Bellevue-area school booster program has been charged with felony theft following allegations that he embezzled $63,000 from the parent-teacher association.

In charging documents, prosecutors claim James "David" Glass bilked the Chinook Middle School PTSA out of the money during the fall of 2009.
Glass, 52, literally drained the organization's bank account through cash withdrawals, as well as payments to his wife and company, a Clyde Hill police officer investigating the case told the court.
As PTSA treasurer, Glass had oversight over the organization's bank accounts, Officer Di Alexander said in court documents. The thefts became known only when the organization received a bank statement showing that an account that should have held $30,000 to $40,000 had dipped to $400.
Confronted by the board, Glass apologized, resigned and paid back the money, Alexander told the court.
"Glass said that he knew that taking the money from the PTSA account was wrong and illegal, because he investigates embezzling schemes for a living," Alexander told the court.
"He told the board that his financial situation had hit 'rock bottom' and that he intended to pay back the full amount missing once that amount was determined."
Charged with first-degree theft, Glass is scheduled to enter a plea May 19. He has not been jailed in the case.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Salina, Kansas Church Employee Arrested for Embezzlement

An administrative assistant at a Salina church is arrested, accused of embezzling more than $68,000 in church funds.

According to our news partners at The Salina Journal, police say the woman was an employee of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Salina. They say she'd been diverting the money for personal use since 2006.
Investigators say the church discovered the shortages during an internal audit of church accounts while the woman was on an extended leave.
The woman was arrested, and is expected to be charged with felony theft, false writing and computer crimes.

A former administrative assistant at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of felony theft and one count of computer crime. Saline County Attorney Ellen Mitchell said Sherri L. Seiler, 40, had generated 81 unauthorized checks since 2006 to compensate herself above her agreed-upon salary and to give herself additional retirement and medical benefits for a total loss to the church of more than $68,200. Her sentencing is set for 9:30 a.m. Aug. 30

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Michigan man accused of stealing from Sunday collection at Warren church

Hard times may have driven a Sterling Heights man to steal from his own church, police said. Kevin John Hampson, 49, is accused of stealing a portion of the Sunday offerings at Crown of Life Evangelical Lutheran Church, on Ryan Road in Warren. New security measures by church personnel led to Hampson's arrest shortly before noon Sunday.
Warren Detective Lt. Michael Torey said a church elder counted and recorded currency from the offerings received after the 8:30 a.m. service. Following the 11 a.m. service, a church official discovered some money and envelopes were missing.
Officials checked a closed-circuit video system that was installed less than a month ago as a security measure following a similar theft recently. The video showed a man entering an office area.
The church pastor phoned police and reported that a man matching the description was in the parking lot talking to two women.
When officers arrived, the man quickly entered the driver side of a 1998 Ford Ranger pickup truck, police said.
"Upon approaching him, officers saw white church envelopes on the floorboard of the vehicle," Torey said. "He confessed to taking the money."
Police recovered seven sealed envelopes later determined to contain a total of $272, and two, $20 bills. Those bills had serial numbers matching the numbers recorded earlier that morning.
Investigators did not immediately know whether Hampson attended Sunday morning services last weekend, but believe he acted alone in the alleged theft.
"He said he's laid off and needs money," Torey said.
Hampson was arraigned Monday in 37th District Court on a charge of larceny from a building, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. Judge Dawnn Gruenburg set bond at $2,500.
A preliminary hearing to determine whether Hampson should stand trial is scheduled for May 11.
The Macomb Daily unsuccessfully tried to reach pastors at Crown of Life Evangelical Lutheran Church for comment.
The church-collection theft is not a unique case for Warren detectives.
"But it doesn't happen very often," Torey added.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ex-School Official in Virginia Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Susan Thanh Litwin, 37, of Woodbridge, Va., pleaded guilty today to stealing more than $279,000 from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a Fairfax County magnet school.

“Susan Litwin didn’t just steal from her employer, she stole from the students at Thomas Jefferson High School and those who donate funds to support public education,” said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride.
Litwin worked as a finance technician at the school from January 2007 to March 2010. She was in charge of receiving and despositing funds that should have gone to student athletics programs, clubs and other school activities.
Instead, she used her position to write checks to herself, make withdrawals from TJHS bank accounts and deposit the money into her own bank accounts, according to the Justice Department.
They said she admitted to stealing more than $279,000 in $2,500 to $35,000 increments.
Litwin allegedly told law enforcement officials that she used the money to support her gambling habit which included trips to Las Vegas and Atlantic City. She also allegedly said she had extensive credit card debt and large mortgage payments on her house.
Litwin could spend up to 10 years in prison.

Charlotte, North Carolina Pastor Jinwright, wife found guilty on fraud,tax evasion

A federal jury has found Charlotte pastors Anthony and Harriet Jinwright guilty on numerous charges in their four-week trial on fraud and tax evasion charges.

Anthony Jinwright was found guilty on 17 of 18 counts. His wife was found guilty on four of 13 charges. The couple co-pastors the Greater Salem City of God church in Charlotte.
The jury reached its verdict in just over four hours of deliberations Monday night. Its decision was met by anguished cries from Jinwright’s supporters in the federal courtroom. Federal prosecutors and defense lawyers spent much of the day offering closing arguments to the jury, which adjourned at 4:10 p.m. to begin deliberations.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Brown told jurors that the Jinwrights, who co-pastor the Greater Salem City of God Church, consistently underreported their income on their tax returns.
“This case is not about religion…,” Brown said. “There’s been no attack on their religious practice, and there’s been absolutely no criticism of Greater Salem Church…They are not being prosecuted because they are ministers. But being a minister is not an excuse or an exemption from complying with the laws of this country.”
Prosecutors accuse the Jinwrights of failing to report $1.8 million of more than $5 million in income from 2002 to 2007. They allege that the Jinwrights used the money to fund their lavish lifestyle of fancy cars, homes and trips, even as their west Charlotte church struggled financially.
But Anthony Jinwright’s lawyer Ed Hinson told jurors this afternoon that the government is attempting to punish his client for following church tradition of accepting “love offerings” and similar financial gifts. Any errors on the Jinwright’s tax returns, Hinson said, were innocent mistakes — not crimes.
“The kingdom of God is not run on generally accepted accounting principals,” Hinson said during closing arguments. “Thank God. If it were, we’d all be in trouble. Neither Bishop (Jinwright) nor the church got these technical things right…(but) that does not make him a criminal.”
Anthony Jinwright, who endured about 11 hours of cross-examination last week, testified during the trial that he didn’t understand he’d been underreporting income.
He said he trusted his financial advisors to get his taxes done correctly, and promised to pay his fair share in the future. Earlier, under questioning from his own lawyer, Ed Hinson, he testified that he’d been so busy traveling across the state and nation preaching the Gospel that he’d neglected his personal finances and those of his church.
Prosecutor Brown, however, repeatedly asked Jinwright to explain why his proclamations of innocence didn’t square with inconsistencies in his own financial documents. He also sought Jinwright’s explanation for testimony of former church members and financial advisors who said they tried to warn Jinwright that he should be reporting money from pastor anniversary collections, speaking engagements and other forms of “love offerings” or “seed offerings.”
Harriet Jinwright did not take the stand.
Lawyers in the case said that at the heart of this case was whether the jury believed that the Jinwrights’ tax returns reflected innocent mistakes or willful misrepresentations

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Woman embezzled Bethlehem, Connecticut booster clubs, police say

A Freemansburg woman who had control over booster club concession money for the two Bethlehem area high schools embezzled $39,000 from the bank account, police said today.
Deborah E. Davis, 52, of 606 Main St., was charged with failure to make the required disposition of funds, theft, receiving stolen property and misapplication of entrusted property.
Davis, a Liberty High School Booster Club representative, made 72 ATM withdrawals and 21 more bank withdrawals over a period of four months, and kept the money for herself, according to the police arrest affidavit.
Davis was one of four people authorized to control the Sovereign Bank account created Aug. 3, 2009, for the Freedom Patriot Club-Bethlehem Coop Concession, police said.
The Freedom and Liberty high school booster clubs created the combined concessions operation as part of a plan to maximize profitability of the stands at Bethlehem Area School District Stadium, police said.
Davis had direct access to the operation's funds because the bank statements were sent to her, police said. It wasn't until Nov. 30, 2009, that Timothy J. Fisher, a Freedom Patriot Club member who had control of the official checkbook, noticed missing funds, police said.
Fisher tried to pay a Coca-Cola bill with a check for $9,403, but the check bounced, police said. He notified Liberty High School Principal Joann Durante, who had the concessions bank account frozen on Dec. 17.
Police finally saw evidence of Davis' withdrawals after they obtained a March 2 court order from Northampton County Judge Edward Smith allowing them to see the Freedom Patriot Club- Bethlehem Coop Concession records, according to the arrest affidavit.
From September through December 2009, $69,251 was deposited into the high school concessions account, and of that total, Davis took $39,491, police said.
Davis was arraigned today by District Judge James J. Narlesky, who sent her to Northampton County Prison under $40,000 bail.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Port Huron, Michigan Parishioners forgive embezzler; O'Boyle's sentencing is June 7

Parishioners have forgiven Jacalyn O'Boyle for stealing thousands of dollars from their church. She'll learn June 7 if that will keep her out of prison.
About 125 parishioners signed letters saying they forgave O'Boyle, 48, of Port Huron Township for embezzling more than $180,000 from St. Edward On-the-Lake Catholic Church in Lakeport.
O'Boyle pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to a charge of embezzling $100,000 or more.
"No matter how grave a crime or an alleged crime may be, everyone is entitled to forgiveness, and we're supposed to be living reminders of that," said the Rev. Joe Esper, pastor of St. Edward.
O'Boyle's sentencing is at 2 p.m. June 7. The charge is a 15-year felony.
St. Clair County Prosecutor Mike Wendling said the probation department will decide the appropriate amount of restitution.
The money was taken during several years while she worked as a bookkeeper at the church.
The embezzlement occurred between 2003 and 2009, according to court records. It was discovered when the records were audited in July. O'Boyle was arraigned on the charge in February.
Esper said he wasn't in a position to comment further on the case because of the ongoing court proceedings.
O'Boyle couldn't be reached for comment

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Virginia High School Club President Accused of Embezzlement

The president of the crew team's booster club at Woodbridge High School in Manassas is accused of embezzling thousands of dollars. Parents received new information on the case Monday evening. Monday night dozens of concerned parents met behind closed doors at Woodbridge High to discuss how the school's crew team will move forward in the wake of embezzlement allegations made against William Schwentner III, the former president of the team's booster club.
"We have a proud heritage that we are very happy to see our kids carry on in a time of adversity," said parent Ric Thomas.
Prince William County police tell ABC 7 News that Schwentner has been charged with embezzling around $2,300. He reportedly used a Woodbridge crew credit card to buy new cabinets for his kitchen. The story was first reported by the News and Messenger.
Booster club members say the organization is cooperating fully with investigators in an effort to determine exactly what happened and if any more money may be missing.
Ric Thomas stated, "We are obviously working with the authorities to conduct an investigation into what we believe is fiscal impropriety."
Beyond that members of this program say they can't comment on the allegations leveled against William Schwentner. They will say every effort is being made to make sure the students can salvage their season.
"Sometimes life's not's a life lesson..The kids are resilient, the people in there are resilient. I think we'll come back," said parent Tony Hughes.
To raise money the team is selling off some of its antique oars and plans on holding a car wash fundraisers at the school May 1 and May 8.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Treasurer of Austin, Texas Church Grant Committee Arrested

Louanne Aponte's husband, Marco Aponte, was arrested Thursday on money laundering charges. Mrs. Aponte is accused of embezzling nearly $500,000 from two nonprofits: Family Connections and Texas Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. In the case of Family Connections, Mrs. Aponte allegedly falsified financial statements used in securing government funding -- which subsequently led to the shuttering of the organization.

According to the Statesman, Marco Aponte's name appeared on several bank accounts used in his wife's embezzlement scheme. At least three charities Mrs. Aponte worked with during the past two decades were included in the arrest warrant, the latest organization being Hyde Park Christian Church. Under the most recent filings, Louanne Aponte is accused of misappropriating funds of around $7,000 during the time she served as treasurer for the church's grants committee (between May 2006 and November 2009).
Investigators are currently tracking deposits -- more than $2 million worth -- into Aponte-controlled accounts over seven years. The arrest warrant claims that based on their salaries and account activity, the couple was living way beyond their means "and could not have done so without the misapplied funds."
While Mr. Aponte remains in custody, Louanne Aponte is thought to be in Venezuela, where her husband's family lives. This week's warrant requests that Mr. Aponte's passport be confiscated.