Thursday, October 28, 2010

Joint Investigation Results In Federal Charge

An investigation by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Secret Service has resulted in the arrest of a North Naples man on a federal warrant for wire fraud.

Investigators say Larry Christopher, 55, 1345 Remington Way No. 4202, misappropriated approximately $350,000 from the former Journey’s Academy, 10641 Airport-Pulling Road N. Suite 28, North Naples. The investigation determined that Christopher embezzled the money between 2007 and July 2009 while he was employed at the academy as its chief financial officer.

The State Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Naples assisted with the investigation.

The warrant was served Tuesday at Christopher’s home.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Former Berkeley county, North Carolina principal and secretary arrested on embezzlement charges

Two former Berkeley County School District employees, a principal and his secretary are now facing embezzlement charges.

Police arrested 44-year-old Arthur Lee Holmes, and 37--year-old Lynette Alston, both are charged with embezzlement. According to police reports, in March of this year, the two are accused of embezzling more than two-thousand dollars by setting up a checking account under Marrington Elementary School PTA's name, and made withdrawals from the account. The report also says Holmes made several credit card purchases for more than two thousand dollars. The investigation began in August, and police arrested both Holmes and Alston in September.

Berkeley County School District says both Holmes and Alston are no longer with the school district. Holmes is now employed by the Jasper County School district as a human resource director. A spokesman there says the district has chosen to allow the case to play out, and they have no comment at this time.

Eastern Guilford, North Carolina Middle Teacher Charged With Embezzlement

A teacher at Eastern Guilford Middle School was arrested and charged with embezzlement.

Cpl. J.F. Stevens with the Guilford County Sheriff's Department said that 46-year-old Dolores Paylor stole $2,237 from the school. She is charged with embezzlement of state property by a public employee.

Stevens said that the money was collected at the school, but would not release additional details of where the money is from.

Paylor is listed as an eighth grade language arts teacher on the Eastern Guilford Middle School website.

She was released from custody on a promise to appear in court.

Canton, Michigan: Church bookkeeper faces embezzlement charge

A former bookkeeper who handled the payroll for a Canton church has been charged amid accusations
she embezzled more than $25,000 by paying herself inflated wages during a four-year period ending last
Dec. 31.
But a defense attorney strongly denied the criminal allegations against 63-year-old Michalene Peters of
Canton, saying the former Resurrection Parish employee made an ongoing payroll mistake but
repaid $25,022 after an audit by the Archdiocese of Detroit uncovered financial discrepancies earlier
this year.“This is a good woman,” Farmington Hills attorney aymond Cassar said. “Everybody loves her. She's a good lady.”Peters waived her preliminary hearing Friday in 35th District Court, sending the case to Wayne County Circuit Court. Peters, released on a personal bond during her Oct. 12 arraignment, has maintained her innocence, but she could face penalties ranging up to 15 years in prison if she is convicted.
Canton Police Detective Jeremy Quinn said Peters voluntarily turned herself in to face one count of embezzling $20,000 to $50,000 as an agent or trustee of the church and one count of embezzling
$1,000 to $20,000 from a nonprofit or charitable organization.Quinn said the charges arose from allegations
Quinn gave herself unauthorized hourly wage increases between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2010,
while she worked as a church bookkeeper.“She denies any type of defrauding,” he said.
Cassar described Peters as a beloved church employee who was asked to retire July 30, ending
what Cassar called an unblemished work record during the 24 years she worked alongside the Rev.
Richard Perfetto before he retired last summer.“I believe this is simply a payroll mistake,” Cassar
said. “It's not like she took money out of the church collection or the pastor's pants pockets. It was
literally a payroll mistake, and she acknowledged it. I'm very surprised that the Archdiocese (of Detroit)
has decided to still go ahead with prosecution.“The money has been repaid,” Cassar said, “and I
am going to do anything in my power to help her.”The Rev. Kenneth Chase confronted the issue last
weekend during an address to the parish, which has grown to 650 families on Warren between Beck and
Ridge since its inception in 1990.Chase told parishioners he needed to share “sad and serious” news with them.“Early in 2010, we discovered what appeared to be some financial discrepancies in the processing of
the parish payroll by our then-bookkeeper,” he said.Chase said the Archdiocese of Detroit was asked to
perform a “limited scope audit” that revealed what he called “questionable transactions and unauthorized activity.” He said those findings were turned over to authorities who conducted their own investigation.
“It is a serious matter when parish funds are unaccounted for, regardless of whether the amount
involved is small or significant,” Chase told parishioners. “Until this matter is resolved in the
courts, the parish staff and I are not able to discuss it or provide you with any additional details beyond
what I'm telling you now.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Midland, Texas School secretary to plead guilty

A former Midland Freshman High School secretary plans to plead guilty this week to charges she embezzled more than $60,000 from the school’s activity fund, her defense attorneys said in court filings.Anette Brewer Fitzhugh, 50, “accepts full responsibility for her conduct giving rise to her plea of guilty” to charges of embezzlement and bank fraud, defense attorney Daniel W. Hurley of Lubbock said in court documuents. Hurley said Fitzhugh will likely plead guilty by Thursday.Fitzhugh was arrested in August in connection with accounting irregularities in the school activity fund that came to light last school year. Fitzhugh, who had worked for the school district between August 2006 and May 2010, was accused of sending herself at least 49 checks from the activity fund’s bank account.Though Fitzhugh was authorized to sign checks, police said the checks also required the signature of another school official before they could be issued. Fitzhugh reportedly forged the signatures of the school’s principal or assistant principal on about 15 of the stolen checks.She reportedly issued the rest of the checks to herself and persuaded school officials to sign the checks by claiming they would be sent to a vendor, detectives said. In all, Fitzhugh reportedly stole about $61,874 between December 2007 and June 2010, police said.Fitzhugh resigned her position, said Woodrow Bailey, a school district spokesman.In court filings last week, Hurley and co-defense counsel Brian Carney explained to U.S. District Judge Rob Junell that “a problem has arisen” during plea negotiations regarding two counts of Fitzhugh’s four-count indictment. In addition to bank fraud and embezzlement charges, Fitzhugh also was indicted on two counts of aggravated identity theft, charges that stemmed from the forged signatures on the checks.Court documents suggest that Fitzhugh is reluctant to plead guilty to those two charges in part because of a 2009 case in which Junell acquitted an Odessa man of aggravated identity theft who had stolen checks from a local woman and issued them around the Permian Basin. In that case, Dana Edward Means, a 39-year-old with a long history of stealing checks, pleaded guilty to bank fraud but challenged the additional charges of aggravated identity theft in his indictment.Prosecutors claimed the stolen checks qualified as a “means of identification” and should be considered an “access device” under the identity theft statute. But Junell disagreed, ruling that even “though a stolen check usually includes both the name and checking account number upon which the check is drawn, the Court finds that this type of transaction was not intended by Congress as an ‘access device’ or a ‘means of identification.’ ”Junell’s ruling spared Means an additional, mandatory two-year prison sentence that would have run consecutively to his six-year sentence for bank fraud. The stakes appear to be just as high for Fitzhugh.Embezzlement carries a possible penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for bank fraud, meanwhile, is 30 years imprisonment and a $1 million fine.Fitzhugh remains free on $10,000 bond.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Woman arrested for embezzling thousands from church in Indiana

Indiana State Police have arrested a former treasurer of an Petersburg, Ind. church.After an investigation, ISP says 68-year-old Phyllis Jones embezzled over $257,000 from the Gospel Center Church.Jones was arrested after she turned herself in at the Pike County Jail.She was later released after posting bond.
The alleged misappropriation of funds started in January 2003, with the most recent incident occurring in April.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ex-Richmond, Virginia child care center director charged

A Chesterfield County woman faces charges of embezzling more than $90,000 from a child care center while serving as its director.An indictment unsealed this week charges 41-year-old Mary Beth Lloyd with taking the money from Grace Covenant Child Development Center in Richmond.Grand jury special counsel Matthew C. Ackley told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that Lloyd was fired sometime after May 1. The money was taken from Dec. 1, 2009, through May 1.Lloyd's attorney, Craig S. Cooley, told the newspaper that Lloyd turned herself in to Richmond police Tuesday. He declined to comment on the case's specifics.
Lloyd's trial is set for Jan. 25.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Former Ira town treasurer accused of stealing $404,000 in Vermont

Donald Hewitt, the former elected treasurer of the small Rutland County town of Ira, has been accused of embezzling $404,000 from the town and the town’s school accounts.

State Police Detective Sgt. Albert Abdelnour said Hewitt confessed to the crime after town officials questioned his accounts.Manchester attorney Robert Woolmington, hired by the town of 455 residents to represent its interests, said town officials became concerned when Hewitt failed to make assessed payments to the Rutland Southwest Supervisory Union. The school district sued Ira in 2009 to force the payment, Woolmington said, and town officials began a close scrutiny of Hewitt’s accounts.“He maintained his own books,” Woolmington said, “and it turned out they weren’t accurate.”Hewitt resigned when confronted with those findings, Abdelnour said. A subsequent audit by Gallagher, Flynn and Co., of Burlington, completed in July, established that slightly more than $404,000 was missing.Abdelnour estimated the annual budget for the town at about $500,000.Reached by phone Wednesday, Hewitt at first declined comment, saying “I don’t have anything to offer on it.” Later, however, he said he had gone to the town meeting in March and apologized for his conduct.Hewitt is due Dec. 13 in Vermont Superior Court in Rutland to answer felony embezzlement charges. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $500 fine.The Ira embezzlement is another instance of an apparent lack of financial oversight of government officials in Vermont:

• Kathy Lantagne, a former state employee and supervisor in the Newport office of the Department of for Children and Families, has been charged with embezzling $490,000 from 2004 to 2009 from a fund that provided help with burial costs and rent for the poor. She has pleaded not guilty to federal charges. Her sister, Deb Tuller, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax violations for her role in the crime.

• In Burlington, the administration of Mayor Bob Kiss spent some $17 million in public money in violation of state regulations to sustain Burlington Telecom without the knowledge of the City Council or the council members of the Board of Finance. That expenditure has led to a pending criminal investigation, a state audit of BT, a civil lawsuit in Chittenden Superior Court brought by taxpayers, and downgrades to the city’s, the airport’s and Burlington Electric Department’s credit ratings.

• In South Burlington, city officials were unaware for years that the city was underfunding the pension fund. Former City Manager Chuck Hafter apologized for the non-payments after Sanford Miller, newly hired as manager, notified the City Council in August that the fund was short nearly $9 million, plus the interest that would have been earned on the contributions had they been made on time. The result, city officials said in late summer, might be tax increases, layoffs or cuts in service.

In the Ira matter, Woolmington said town officials were “very disturbed” by Hewitt’s alleged misconduct.
“They obtained his resignation, they put in a new official, they took possession of the town records and commissioned the independent audit, they notified the police, and there is a lawsuit pending in Superior Court in Rutland to attach his assets,” Woolmington said. “It’s been a difficult ordeal for the public officials to deal with this, but they’ve done their job.” Ira Selectboard members did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Woolmington said the town made a claim on its insurance policy and received a partial payment of $346,000 for its losses. Abdelnour said because of the statute of limitations, his investigation covered only the past six years, but Woolmington said the audit accounted for the total missing from the entire time Hewitt served as auditor. Hewitt, 58, was unsure when that tenure began. “It’s been 30 years, anyway,” he said.
He said he and his wife will remain in their home “for the time being, or at least in the area.” Asked if it has been uncomfortable to face his neighbors or if they had been understanding, he said, “I don’t know if you can call it understanding. I haven’t experienced any animosity

High School Ex-Secretary Charged With Embezzlement in Mississippi

A former Hattiesburg High School secretary has pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement.State Auditor Stacey Pickering says in a news release that Kay Magee had been accused of taking $22,085 from the school between April 2007 and April 2009.Pickering says Magee was recently ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,341 to the Hattiesburg Public School District, $6,767 to the Office of the State Auditor and a repayment of $21,085 to her bonding company who paid the school district for its loss. He says Magee was sentenced to 20 years with 18 months house arrest

Pastor at Waterloo church arrested on theft charges in Canada

Reverend Paul Hartig, the senior pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in Waterloo, has been charged in connection with thefts from the church.Waterloo Regional Police say the 46-year-old from Kitchener was arrested Wednesday, following an investigation into thefts of money from the church in 2009 and 2010. He is charged with theft over $5,000.He was released on a Promise to Appear, and a court date is scheduled for Jan. 17, 2011.Hartig describes his background on his blog "Confessions of a Parish Pastor," saying he grew up in the Preston area of Cambridge, completed an undergraduate degree through Wilfrid Laurier University and a Masters through Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jasper County, "South Carolina School District employee charged

The new head of academics and human resources at the Jasper County School District is facing felony charges in Goose Creek after police say he embezzled about $7,000 from a fundraiser at an elementary school where he was the principal. Arthur Lee Holmes, 45, is charged with embezzlement of public funds of more than $5,000 in Berkeley County. He was hired as the chief of academics and human resources for the Jasper County School District in June.According to an arrest warrant, Holmes “did willfully, unlawfully and feloniously embezzle public funds during a fundraiser at Marrington Elementary” in which students sold chocolate between March 12 and May 12.The incident was reported by a member of the Berkeley County School District to Goose Creek Police on Aug. 24. The complainant said Holmes, past principal, and his secretary Lynette Alston, “both stole funds from a school fundraiser.”According to the warrant, Holmes opened a First Federal bank account that was not authorized by the district and was against school policy and the arrest warrant says $7,000 of the $18,232 raised at the fundraiser was unaccounted for or spent on unauthorized purchases not related to the fundraiser.“The defendant confessed to this (officer) to keeping and/or spending some of the fundraiser money for himself,” the arrest warrant affidavit says. “The defendant also confessed to allowing the co-defendant to spend and keep some of the fundraiser money as well.”
The secretary, Alston, is facing the same embezzlement charge, according to court records.
Holmes was principal of Marrington Elementary School for one year until the school year ended in the spring.
Holmes was at his office at the Jasper County School District on Tuesday but directed comments to his attorney Eduardo Curry of North Charleston.
“Dr. Holmes believes in the criminal justice system and maintains his innocence,” Curry said. “He thinks that after all the facts are flushed out, that the community will understand and that he will be vindicated.”
Curry said there would be “legal and factual explanations for any inaccuracies in the accounting principles.”
Meanwhile, school officials in Jasper County are investigating the matter.
“The district will be looking into this,” said spokesman Bob Huff. “In that it does affect our personnel, I can’t make any comment on it at this time.”
Personnel issues can’t be addressed publicly, he said. Huff said School Superintendent Vashti Washington was made aware of the allegations and the matter was under discussion Tuesday.
According to the Berkeley County Ninth Judicial Circuit Court records, Holmes was officially charged Sept. 23.
Before becoming a principal in Goose Creek, he taught in both Charleston and Dorchester IV before moving to Berkeley County in 2004.
He served as assistant principal at Cainhoy Elementary/ Middle and the Daniel Island School.

Iona College Fires 2 Employees After Discovering $800,000 Fraud in New York

A former employee of Iona College defrauded it of hundreds of thousands of dollars over nearly a decade.

The Roman Catholic college reported on its 2008-9 Internal Revenue Service tax forms that an unnamed employee fraudulently misappropriated $80,000 per year for approximately 10 years. The employee obtained the money though a series of small-dollar transactions, approving a college credit card for personal use and fraudulently signing checks.Dawn Insanalli, a spokeswoman for the college, declined to comment on the matter following repeated phone calls seeking further information. The president's office directed comment to Ms. Insanalli; the office of the vice president for finance and administration and the chair of the Board of Trustees did not return requests for comment.Iona discovered the transactions during the 2009 fiscal year, and the employee was terminated after the matter was brought to the attention of Brother James A. Liguori, the college's president. Following an investigation, another employee thought to be involved in covering up the fraud was also fired.It's unclear whether the college took legal action against the employees. The police department in New Rochelle, N.Y., where the college is located, was unable to find a record indicating that Iona had reported the incident, and Ms. Insanalli would not say whether criminal charges had been filed.While roughly a dozen fraud cases at colleges may make news each year, scores more go unreported, said William K. Black, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and former director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention. Nonprofit organizations often do not report those types of crimes because they find them embarrassing, he said, and because they do not expect to recover the money.It is unclear whether Iona recovered any of the lost funds. Often, Mr. Black said, people who embezzle money are in financial trouble and unable to pay it back. After uncovering the fraud, Iona hired an accounting firm to perform an internal-control review, hoping to prevent a similar situation from happening again. According to the tax form, the college was scheduled to have finished carrying out suggestions from the review by October 1.

Long-term fraud schemes are not new to colleges and universities. As recently as June, La Salle University fired its vice president for auxiliary services after discovering that he had funneled several million dollars through a fictitious food company over the course of 20 years. In recent years, colleges of all types, including St. John's University, Valley Forge Christian College, and Berry College, have had employees embezzle money or defraud the institution.Colleges and other nonprofit groups may be particularly vulnerable to that type of fraud because they often have "very weak or nonexistent" internal controls, Mr. Black said. He said colleges could borrow the fraud-prevention tricks of major companies, such as having a different employee provide documentation for a transaction that another employee conducts.They could also improve their chances of preventing problems by conducting regular audits."People sort of assume that folks in the nonprofit sector are not there to make money and are, therefore, at reduced risk of being a thief," he said.

A New York nun has denied charges that she embezzled 850,000 over 10 years from the college where she worked.

Sister Marie Thornton, known as Sister Susie, took the money to pay “credit card bills for personal expenses”, according to court documents.

Prosecutors say she hid the thefts by submitting fake invoices to Iona College, the Catholic institution where she was vice-president of finance.

The 62-year-old nun denied a federal embezzlement charge.

Judges did not remand her in custody, and her religious order, the Sisters of St Joseph, said they were providing her with “emotional and spiritual support”.

Sister Susie's lawyer, Sanford Talkin, said he thought the case would be resolved “in a manner fair to all the parties involved”.

In a , the college said it had “recovered the majority of the funds”.

The college stressed it had taken action to make sure the same thing could never happen again.

Former Kelloggsville, Michigan School Board Member Ordered To Pay Back $13K

After pleading guilty to embezzlement, a Kent County Judge has ordered Terry Lamore to repay nearly $14,000 in money she stole from the Kelloggsville School district.Lamore told the judge she was embarrassed and explained what happened was "out of character" for her. She added she was "apologetic to everyone involved".According to Kelloggsville Superintendent Greg Warsen, Lamore stole the money in small amounts over a period of time from September of 2007 to September of 2008. Warsen explained monitoring of funds from the Parent Teacher Group revealed something was wrong. After conducting an internal investigation, Lamore was found to be the person responsible.Lamore resigned her position amid the internal investigation. She was sentenced Tuesday to three years probation and ordered to pay back nearly $14,000 thousand dollars in restitution. Lamore must also complete 200 service hours.Lamore served on the school board from July 2007 to November 2009. Warsen said prior to that, she served the Parent Teacher Group as Treasurer and President.Warsen declined to comment on the situation on-camera but said he was "disappointed that the entire thing happened". He added in a written statement: "Since this unfortuanate situation took place, we have implemented increased controls including annual audits of all of our volunteer groups and regular submission of financial data to our business office. These audits and submissions have revealed a high level of integrity amongst the parent groups that support our students".Lamore also declined to comment as she left court Tuesday afternoon.

Church Bookkeeper Sentenced for Embezzlement in Idaho

The former bookkeeper at an Idaho Falls church has been sentenced to three days in jail for embezzling more than $2,000. Seventh District Judge Gregory Anderson sentenced 58-year-old Terri Lee Ward Johnson on Monday. He ordered her to pay $1,875 in restitution to Holy Rosary Catholic Church, perform 100 hours of community service and spend three years on probation. If Johnson completes probation and the terms of her sentence, Anderson said the charge could be expunged from her record. The Post Register reports Johnson was arrested on April 5 after church officials reported just over $2,000 missing. She pleaded guilty to felony grand theft in August as part of a plea agreement. Johnson was sentenced Monday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Buchanan PTO embezzler gets jail in Indiana

Good people can make bad choices. That was the message Berrien County Trial Judge Scott Schofield gave Buchanan resident Jennifer Mollberg when he sentenced her Monday for embezzling more than $33,000 from a Buchanan school organization."You may be a good person, but you made a series of terribly poor choices," Schofield told Mollberg. "One of the lessons I hope the community learns is that even good people are capable of terrible choices."You have the opportunity to teach your children that even good people can be at terrible risk of making poor choices, and you have the opportunity to teach them how to recover," he said. "You feel guilt and shame and you should."Mollberg was the treasurer of the Ottawa Elementary Parent Teacher Organization and embezzled the money in a period between Jan. 1, 2006, and July 30, 2010.
The embezzlement was discovered when Ottawa Elementary Principal Karin Falkenstein reviewed the P.T.O.’ s financial records and found that the fundraising account was overdrawn. The school district has since put checks and balances in place.Mollberg, 44, of Broceus School Road in Buchanan, was sentenced Monday to 90 days in jail for embezzlement over $1,000 and less than $20,000 involving a not for profit/ charitable organization.Schofield said he would consider an early release from jail before the Christmas holiday with the remainder of her jail time added to the 90 days tether that she must served after she gets out of jail.She was also placed on three years of probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. She can not work or volunteer in any position where she has control of other people’s money.She must pay $2,110 in fines and costs and the remaining $4,080 owed in restitution. She and her family have repaid all the money taken except that amount and plan to repay that this week, defense attorney Tim Dowling said.Schofield commended Mollberg for already paying most if not all of the money she took, but said she had betrayed the trust of the school and the community. "You betrayed their trust in a major, major way," he said.He said he fashioned Mollberg’s sentence so that it was similar to other embezzlers’ sentences in recent years. He cited other embezzlement cases involving the Niles schools, the Rotary Club and Polly’s Place women’s shelter.Mollberg said she was ashamed. "I am so ashamed of what I’ve done," she said. "I did intermingle the P.T.O.’ s money with my own. It was wrong to take it, I had no business taking it. The school entrusted me with the money and (I) took advantage of that."Dowling said the embezzlement had been life shattering for Mollberg and her family. "She’s worn the shame and humiliation like a scarlet letter," he said. "She’s paid back all the money and she’s willing to do anything."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

North Carolina Church Treasurer Stole $20,000

A former church treasurer has been charged with 11 counts of embezzlement after sheriff's officials said she had taken more than $20,000 over a three-year period.The Mount Airy News reported Wanda Lucille Oakley, 54, of Lowgap was arrested in August and will appear in court in December.
Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson said leaders at the Liberty Union Baptist Chruch in Lowgap noticed discrepancies in the church's books in the spring and reported it to the sheriff's office.An investigation uncovered Oakley allegedly stole money from November 2006 to February 2010, involving more than 400 transactions.Oakley reportedly used the church debit card for meals, car washes and other expenses. Some money was also transferred into a personal bank account, Atkinson said.Oakley had been the church's treasurer for several years before the embezzlement began, Atkinson said.The investigation is still ongoing. Oakley is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 14.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ex-coach charged with stealing $27,000 in Illinois

The former Crystal Lake South athletic director and head football coach was charged Thursday with stealing $27,000 from vending machines and fundraising events in District 155 over the last four years.Jim Stuglis, who turned himself into police, also is accused of keeping money from ticket sales at playoff games. He was indicted by a McHenry County grand jury on 10 counts of felony theft and three counts of felony computer fraud.The indictment claims that on March 24, district officials told police that $9,000 was found in Stuglis’ office. An investigation revealed that he had hidden many thousands of dollars in vending machine proceeds from the athletic department, the document says.Stuglis also is alleged to have profited by sending lower attendance figures at certain playoff games to the Illinois High School Association and keeping the cash from the real number of tickets sold.Stuglis’ arrest comes more than six months after district officials became aware of possible illegal financial activities, authorities said.Before leaving in the summer under a release agreement approved by the Board of Education, Stuglis had worked in the district for 17 years. The agreement paid him salary through June 30 and his health insurance through Aug. 31. As athletic director, head football coach and physical education teacher, he made more than $135,000 last school year.The agreement was signed on June 15. He was put on administrative leave by Superintendent Jill Hawk in March, shortly after officials learned of possible wrongdoing, she said. The agreement stated that his resignation was not an admission of guilt and that police were investigating. But district officials offered no explanation into the subject of the investigation.“I know the community is upset because they don’t know everything that is going on,” board president Ted Wagner said in June. “Everybody has their right to privacy. What the board did, as an employer, we represented the community.”Jason Bott, a longtime physical education teacher at South who served as assistant athletic director last year, replaced Stuglis as athletic director. Former Gator defensive coordinator Chuck Ahsmann now serves as head football coach.Stuglis’ bond was set at $40,000. He faces prison time and substantial fines, and is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 27.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Arrest Made In Embezzlement Investigation in Redding, California

Police made an arrest Tuesday after a Redding woman admitted to embezzling from Shasta College in 2008.

The investigation was started after Shasta College Vice President Joe Wise reported that Roberta Jean West was possibly stealing money from the college's food services while she worked in the cafeteria.
West was charged with embezzlement and booked into the Shasta County Jail. She has already paid more than 30- thousand dollars back to the college.
in cash from the school’s cafeteria.

Roberta Jean West, 57, of Redding is charged with one felony count of embezzlement and is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on Dec. 30 to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to warrant a criminal trial.

She is free of custody without being required to post bail.

A seven-page Redding police report released Friday shows that West, who worked for the college for nearly 30 years, admitted that she stole the money, although she believed it was a lesser amount.

“I was bad,” she told a police investigator. “I was nuts.”

She also said she has repaid the $31,000, even though she believed she stole only about $17,000.

But, she told police, she was not contesting the amount of money stolen.

Police were sent to the college campus in September after its vice president of administrative services, Joe Wyse, reported the alleged thefts.

He told police West resigned from her job after being confronted about the thefts, saying she would pay back the missing money.

He also told police that he told West he would not pursue any civil action against her, but said he believed he needed to report the embezzlement to law enforcement in case she decided to seek a similar job.

The embezzlement reportedly occurred from September to November 2008, police said.

West, who told police she thought the case was over after she repaid the money to the college, said she has lost everything, noting that her husband was ill, she has lost her home and has filed for bankruptcy, the police report said.

She also said she “went crazy” and “beats herself up every day over what she had done and was trying to get on with her life,” the police report said.

“Roberta West told me she was sorry and just wanted it to go away,” the police report said, adding that she admitted to using the money to pay “stuff off” and spent it on “stupid things.”

The report did not elaborate on how the money was spent.

Since she resigned, the report said, West has gone to work in a Cottonwood cafeteria serving food to children.

But, she told police, she was not working around money.

According to the police report, West said she was able to pocket cash from the college cafeteria by simply reporting a lesser amount of money coming into the till. She told investigators she changed the numbers when balancing the daily receipts to make it appear as if the cafeteria had a slower day.

A former Shasta College employee who was arrested in October on suspicion of embezzling $31,000 in cash from the school’s cafeteria has pleaded guilty to a single count of felony embezzlement.

Roberta Jean West, 57, of Redding avoided a preliminary hearing earlier this week by pleading guilty in Shasta County Superior Court last week.

West, who has since repaid the money she stole, was sentenced on Dec. 21 to perform 90 days of community service, a prosecutor said Thursday.

She also was placed on probation for three years and is not allowed to go on campus or to contact college personnel.

West, who worked for the college for nearly 30 years, admitted to police that she stole the money, although she believed it was a lesser amount, an investigative report revealed.

“I was bad,” she told a police investigator. “I was nuts.”

Although she told police she thought she stole only about $17,000, she was not contesting the higher amount, the police report said.

According to the police report, police were sent to the college campus in September after its vice president of administrative services, Joe Wyse, reported the thefts.

He told police West resigned from her job after being confronted about the thefts and promised to pay back the missing money.

The embezzlement reportedly occurred from September to November 2008, police have said, adding that West admitted to using the money to pay “stuff off” and spent it on “stupid things.”

According to the police report, West said she was able to pocket cash from the college cafeteria by simply reporting a lesser amount of money coming into the till.

She told investigators she changed the numbers when balancing the daily receipts to make it appear as if the cafeteria had a slower day.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Former VCU Employee Sentenced to 3 Years for Embezzlement

A former Virginia Commonwealth University employee convicted of embezzling from a school community-outreach program has been sentenced to three years in prison.Richmond Times-Dispatch" reports that 40-year-old Lisa Durham of Petersburg was sentenced Tuesday in Richmond Circuit Court. Durham formerly was the coordinator of a VCU program that provides rent, utility and prescription-drug assistance to chronically and terminally ill patients.She pleaded guilty in July to six counts of embezzlement. Prosecutors say she took $144,000 over three years from the program.She apologized Tuesday in court.

Ex-PTO officer in West Virginia pleads not guilty to embezzlement

An Elkview woman has pleaded not guilty to embezzlement and other crimes in connection with the theft of more than $13,000 from the Pinch Elementary School PTO. Sarah Elizabeth Harless, 33, was indicted by a Kanawha grand jury for embezzlement, taking the identity of another, forgery and uttering, credit card forgery, fraudulent schemes and obtaining by false pretenses. Kanawha Circuit Judge set an April 4 trial date for Harless. She is free on $1,000 bond.The criminal complaint filed in magistrate court said Harless, elected vice president of the support group, took over duties of the treasurer from Nov. 1 to mid-April when the money was discovered missing.According to police, Harless used the PTO money to make personal purchases and pay her personal utility bills.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Former Wakita school employee charged with embezzlement in Oklahoma

A Manchester woman was arraigned this week in Grant County District Court on a felony embezzlement charge alleging she stole more than $26,000 from Wakita Public Schools.Amanda Jean Kerr, 30, is accused of taking $26,469 from the school between July 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2009, when she was employed by Wakita Public Schools.The felony embezzlement charge is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000 and restitution.According to an affidavit filed in the case, Grant County Deputy Scott Sterling met with Superintendent Gerald Miller Feb. 10 in regard to embezzlement at the school.
Miller said he’d been contacted about suspicions in activity accounts and by a teacher who asked how Kerr’s paycheck could be larger than hers, according to the affidavit. He said he knew that could not be possible, so he placed Kerr on administrative leave and began the termination process.Miller said when he spoke with Kerr she confessed she’d been overpaying herself, according to the affidavit. Miller also told the deputy he requested a payroll audit of Kerr from an Enid firm, the affidavit states.Kerr was contracted with the school for a $25,000 salary annually, and her duties included overseeing activity accounts, accounts payable, payroll, health insurance and other duties. She was the only one in charge of those duties and had no oversight.Kerr was supposed to receive checks of $2,083.33 a month, but would receive multiple checks for as a little as $98 and as much as $5,127 a month, doubling her contracted salary, according to the affidavit.Money also was misappropriated from the academic account, junior class account, FFA account, FCCLA account, yearbook activity account and activity funds account, totaling $6,596.07, according to the affidavit.An investigation also found purchases had been charged to the school at businesses where the school does not have accounts, according to the affidavit.Purchases included a folding table, candy, paper goods and a pink Nintendo DS Lite. Payments to Kerr’s husband’s credit cards also were paid with money from the school, according to the affidavit.A check also was issued to Kerr for $220, which she was supposed to cash and reimburse students who overpaid for lunch, but the money never was given back to the students, according to the affidavit.On Feb. 19, Miller met with school board member Jerry Biby and John Kerr, Amanda Kerr’s father-in-law. During the meeting, Miller accepted two cashiers checks for reimbursement on behalf of Wakita Public Schools. The checks were issued for $6,600 and $6,902.18. Another $1,075 was found missing from the school’s sales of soda pop.Kerr is scheduled for a bond appearance Nov. 15.

Judge accepts guilty plea in church embezzlement case in Ohio

A federal magistrate judge has accepted a guilty plea from Stanley S. Chapman, formerly of Aurora, on two counts of embezzling money from the Blessed Hope Missionary Baptist Church of Cleveland and on two counts of failing to pay income taxes.In April, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Chapman with four counts of income tax evasion and 12 counts of employment tax offenses. The government alleged that between 2003 and 2006, Mr. Chapman embezzled $336,777 from the church by diverting federal FICA tax money to his own account.The indictment alleged that Mr. Chapman failed to report taxable income of approximately $283,136 and income taxes of approximately $51,301 for those years.Sentencing has been set for Dec. 15.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Massachusetts Priest faces criminal charges in theft of church money

The city's Catholic community was rocked this summer when the Rev. Keith LeBlanc, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church, resigned amid allegations of financial improprieties.Many of the city's faithful hoped and prayed it would amount to nothing and that LeBlanc was innocent of any wrongdoing.But court officials now say LeBlanc has been issued a summons to appear in Haverhill District Court on Nov. 3 to face charges of larceny over $250 by a single scheme as well as fraud.Deputy police Chief Donald Thompson said Attorney General Martha Coakley's office had been looking into the allegations, and then decided to turn the investigation over to Haverhill police, which resulted in the charges being filed.Boston Archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon declined to comment on LeBlanc's whereabouts or status with the church.
"Given there are ongoing legal proceedings, I will respectfully decline comment at this time," Donilon said.
A summons requires a person to show up court to face charges, but means they are not arrested before the court appearance.There was no sign of unrest brewing at St. John the Baptist when in a church bulletin dated Sunday, June 13, LeBlanc told parishioners it is easy for people to judge very quickly when a person of popularity or fame has committed an offensive act."Are we ready to forgive them?'' LeBlanc wrote. "Are we ready to give them another chance? Can we accept their apology as really being one of sorrow? In fact, very few of us are willing to forgive unless first their is contrition, tears, and words that show that person is truly sorry."During a 4 p.m. Mass the following Saturday, St. John the Baptist Deacon Thomas Anthony told parishioners that LeBlanc had resigned effective the previous day.Anthony urged parishioners to pray for "Father Keith" and said the priest "is where he should be, getting the help he needs."Anthony mentioned that he drove LeBlanc to the airport, and on the ride, spoke to him about how sometimes people are placed "on a pedestal."Parishioners were told that LeBlanc had been escorted by Catholic Church officials to Philadelphia, where they were conducting an investigation and providing him with counseling. Parishioners were also told an audit of finances at St. John the Baptist was being conducted by the archdiocese.
LeBlanc's resignation came less than a week before St. John the Baptist was set to celebrate its 55th anniversary.In the days following LeBlanc's resignation, Donilon said it was unlikely that LeBlanc knew about the investigation when he wrote about forgiveness in his bulletin.Following LeBlanc's resignation, the archdiocese named the Rev. Paul Coughlin as temporary administrator, then a month later named the Rev. Robert Murray, who is pastor of St. James Church, as pastor of St. John the Baptist as well.LeBlanc oversaw the renovation of the church basement into a parish hall in 2006. The renovations, which began in November 2005, were funded through the sale of a 2.3-acre parcel of land behind the church to Merrimack Valley Hospital for $1.2 million.He also had air conditioning installed in the church, and instituted a 10 a.m. family Mass so that children attending CCD classes that let out at 9:55 a.m. did not have to leave the property then return. LeBlanc also expanded the altar server program to allow more members of the parish to be involved.LeBlanc had a "late vocation" to the priesthood, having joined it late in life after having a professional career. His first assignment as a priest in Haverhill was at All Saints Church, formerly St. Joseph's Church. He became St. John's pastor on Sept. 1, 2003. LeBlanc replaced the Rev. Frederick Sweeney, who had retired as pastor of St. John the Baptist.Sweeney was hailed by many as the priest who, along with the Rev. Dennis Nason, forced out former St. John's Rev. Ronald Paquin amid allegations of child sexual abuse.Paquin is serving a 12- to 15-year sentence at MCI-Concord for raping a Haverhill altar boy several times. Paquin was defrocked in 2002 after admitting he was a child molester at the church in the 1980s.Nason recently stepped down as pastor of All Saints Church after announcing he was battling cancer.

Duo admits to taking $450,000 from Columbus, Georgia church

Two women have admitted they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Columbus church.Lalinriafaye Wilson and Nikiena Bowden Rogers pleaded guilty to theft by taking charges Tuesday in Muscogee County Superior Court.According to their plea deal, the women must pay back $450,000 they stole from Fourth Street Missionary Baptist Church downtown.Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan sentenced Wilson to 50 years probation, whereas Rogers was sentenced to five years in prison and 45 years probation.According to the state, Nikiena Bowden was a convicted felon when she was hired as a bookkeeper at Fourth Street Church back in 2003.Prosecutors say she embezzled money from her previous employer and told the judge she did the same thing at Fourth Street, allegedly taking church checks and cashing them for herself over a period of two years.Assistant District Attorney David Helmick says she gave some Lalinriafaye Wilson who also allegedly cashed the church checks for herself and her and her husband's church.Helmick says because of Bowden's position in the church, she could cover it up and it wasn't until 2005 when a new bookkeeper was hired that the staff realized the checks and balances were out of whack.
According to prosecutors, close to half a million dollars turned up missing.Wilson's attorney, Frank Martin, says church staff members received monthly financial reports and any misappropriation of funds would have been caught at the get-go.The church's pastor, Reverend JH Flakes Junior took the stand says their books show that checks were stolen and funds were stolen. Flakes says checks were written to Bowden and Wilson in amounts of $2000 and $4000, none of which were authorized by his church.

Pastor Bob’ heading to prison for 10 years Robert Nelson pleads no contest to stealing from Holly Hill church in Florida

A former Holly Hill pastor was sentenced today to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay $650,000 in restitution after pleading no contest to grand theft of more than $100,000 in the theft of money from the Ridgewood Avenue Community Church.Robert N. Riddle, 59, who goes by "Pastor Bob," according to an arrest affidavit, listed an address in Marietta, Ga., when he was arrested.A co-defendant in the case, William J. Harris, 65, is still awaiting trial, Assistant State Attorney Christopher Kelly said.The thefts occurred in 2006, according to court documents.The two are accused of writing at least 12 checks solely for their benefit and/or missionary activities in Zambia, Africa, according to police reports.Riddle is also accused of using a debit card that belonged to the check for more than 75 transactions, some of which resulted in overdraft penalties for the church.Circuit Judge R. Michael Hutcheson also sentenced Riddle to 10 years of probation following the prison term.

Richlands, Virginia couple gets probation for embezzling money from Little League

A Richlands couple received three years probation each after being accused of embezzling over $5,000 from the Richlands Athletic League baseball team according to Richlands police.54-year-old, Phillip Mohon, and his wife, 53-year-old, Lisa Mohon, pled no contest to embezzlement in circuit court September 30th.
According to Beth Newberry, president of the Richlands Athletic League, Phillip served as president in 2008 and 2009, while his wife maintained the team's website.According to the police report, the couple purchased gas, clothing, diapers, food and various items from Sam's Club and Lowe's with a debit card issued by the league. However, the league says none of the items purchased were intended for use by the league.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ex-UVa employee avoids jail in library thefts

A former Clemons Library employee who pawned his employer’s electronics won’t serve jail time.Judge Cheryl Higgins sentenced Bruce Eugene Johnson on Wednesday in Albemarle County Circuit Court to a suspended three-year prison sentence, three years of good behavior and $5,736 in restitution to a local pawnshop.Police had accused Johnson of pawning computer, video and audio equipment between May 2008 and August 2009.The equipment, which belonged to the University of Virginia library, was valued at about $5,000.Johnson, 37, testified Wednesday that he had been paying spousal support and facing bankruptcy and foreclosure at the time he took the items.“This was a bad mistake,” Johnson said. “ … I feel truly sorry for the crimes I committed.”According to court records, Johnson pleaded guilty in June to embezzlement and larceny with the intent to sell.Johnson said he had been working in the media lab at Clemons and is pursuing his interest in cinema and media technology through online courses and short-term jobs.Darby Lowe, deputy commonwealth’s attorney, said in court that Johnson had no prior criminal record. Higgins suggested that Johnson’s actions were a mistake and an aberration.

Los Angeles Unified School District administrator charged with embezzling funds

A former Los Angeles Unified School District administrative assistant was charged today with embezzling more than $100,000 from the elementary school where she was assigned.Lisa Ann Castro, 46, is set to be arraigned Friday at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse on two felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, three counts of embezzlement and four counts of forgery.Castro worked at Halldale Elementary in Torrance, where she was given responsibility for two school accounts shortly after being assigned there in 2005, according to Deputy District Attorney Gary Nielsen.She also was made treasurer of the PTA and given access to its checking account, he said.Castro is accused of stealing from the three accounts between June 2005 and September 2009, and forging signatures on more than 100 checks by using the names of two principals and two PTA officials.Castro, who was arrested Wednesday by LAUSD police, was jailed in lieu of $135,000 bail.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Livonia soccer club co-treasurer charged with embezzlement

The former co-treasurer of the Livonia City Soccer Club was arraigned Monday on a charge he embezzled more than $100,000 from the nonprofit organization, Lt. Greg Winn of the Livonia Police Department said.

Brian Patrick Molloy, 40, of Farmington stood mute to the charge and Magistrate James Jolly entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf during his arraignment in 16th District Court.Molloy was released on a $25,000 personal bond. A preliminary examination was set for Oct. 14 before Judge Sean P. Kavanagh.Winn said the embezzlement appears to have gone on over about two years. “We’re still going over bank records,” he said, adding the investigation is continuing and investigators are working on recovering the money.
The Livonia City Soccer Club has about 1,000 youth players. The organization was formed in June 2008, when the former Livonia Meteors Soccer Club and the former Livonia Soccer Club merged. Molloy had been affiliated with the Livonia Soccer Club.The board of the Livonia City Soccer Club met Monday night and formally removed Molloy from the organization, LCSC spokesman Joe Bauman said.Bauman said the embezzlement has not impacted the business operations of the organization.The organization also issued the following statement: “In the past few weeks, the club became aware of suspected embezzlement activity regarding our bank accounts. It appeared an unknown individual or individuals had gained access to our bank accounts and were able to fraudulently remove funds out of those accounts. The suspected fraudulent activity was discovered as part of a routine examination of club bank statements.“Immediately upon discovering the suspicious activity, club officers contacted bank authorities, who in turn alerted their fraud prevention unit.”The statement went on to say club officials worked closely with police and fraud investigators to identify the individual responsible for the fraudulent activity.Because the investigation is ongoing, the Livonia Police Department instructed the club not to discuss details regarding the case.“We will share additional information regarding the matter as soon as we are permitted by the police department,” the statement said. “It is important to note that the club is working with police and bank officials to identify and implement additional measures to safeguard club funds and prevent this type of regrettable incident from ever happening again. “We will continue to update our club families as more information becomes available. In the meantime, rest assured the club is committed to providing the outstanding soccer experience our players and families have come to expect.”

Prosecutor says Father Sam embezzled more than $1 million in Ohio

The Rev. Samuel Ciccolini embezzled more than $1 million from the Interval Brotherhood Home Foundation through an elaborate scheme that involved falsifying invoices and financial records, federal authorities say.

The well-known Catholic priest better known as ''Father Sam'' confessed to the nonprofit and paid back the money only after authorities launched an investigation into his conduct, according to a 14-page document filed Tuesday in federal court.The document contains details never revealed before in the case, including the amount stolen and how Ciccolini deceived the nonprofit by billing the Interval Brotherhood Home Foundation for construction work and equipment that had been donated.''The community held him in high regard and had a tremendous amount of faith and trust in him,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Bulford wrote. ''He used all of this goodwill to take advantage of the situation and embezzled funds from the charity.
''The scheme was an elaborate subterfuge. There was deception at all levels along the way. He falsified invoices. He falsified financial records. He issued false checks of the not-for-profit.''Ciccolini, 68, who founded the Interval Brotherhood Home in 1970 and served as its executive director, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in federal court in Cleveland on income tax and bank-related charges.A plea agreement recommends 18 to 24 months in prison, although his attorneys have asked for only house arrest given his career of helping others and cooperation with authorities.He has not been charged with theft.
Stanford, current executive director of IBH, and Tim Killian, president of the foundation, declined to comment Wednesday, saying they believe it is prudent to reserve comment until after the sentencing hearing.
As part of his scheme, Ciccolini recorded fictitious expenses for construction work and equipment that had been donated at no cost to the nonprofit, the court filing says. He then issued checks for the work and equipment, and kept the money himself, it says.''These payments did not go to the contractors as indicated in the books and records of the foundation,'' Bulford wrote. ''Instead, they were converted by Samuel Ciccolini into cash and official bank checks which were deposited in Ciccolini's accounts.''Between 2002 and 2006, the priest deposited more than $900,000 into his personal accounts, the court filing says. Ciccolini confessed to the board that he took about $1.2 million, the document says.It's unclear what the priest did with the money. In typical embezzlement cases, people spend it but he apparently kept the cash on hand because he was able to pay it back to the foundation, Bulford said.
Bulford also wrote that the priest used the foundation ''as a vehicle to increase his wealth.''
Authorities have said Ciccolini accumulated more than $1 million in personal wealth through bequests and other personal gifts given to him over his religious career.It's unclear what Ciccolini, who had few expenses as a priest, did with the embezzled money. In typical embezzlement cases, people buy houses and cars or gamble it away, but he apparently kept the cash on hand, because he was able to pay back the money to the foundation, Bulford said Wednesday.Ciccolini has not been charged with theft. Officials would not discuss that issue.Peter Cahoon, an attorney for Ciccolini, declined to comment on the court filing.Ciccolini's attorneys admitted in a court filing earlier this week that he had ''improperly transferred'' funds to his personal accounts.Ed Stanford, current executive director of IBH, and Tim Killian, president of the foundation, also declined to comment, saying they believe it is prudent to reserve comment until after the sentencing.
IBH officials previously have stated the case involved Ciccolini's personal finances and had nothing to do with the foundation.Ciccolini stepped aside as executive director of IBH after he was charged earlier this year with one count of structuring financial transactions to evade reporting requirements and one count of making and subscribing a false tax return. He pleaded guilty in July.Federal authorities say he deposited more than $1 million in bank branches in the Akron area from April to June 2003 by making 139 cash transactions.Banks are required to report deposits of more than $10,000 to federal authorities under the Bank Secrecy Act, which is designed to catch money laundering. Ciccolini deposited lower amounts to avoid the reporting requirement.He also filed a tax return in 2004 listing his income for the previous year as $101,064 when it was $407,062. Although he faced only one income tax charge, he has admitted other years' returns also were incorrect.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Baseball club ex-treasurer charged with embezzlement in Washington

Prosecutors said a Sammamish man in charge of the finances of a local baseball club bilked tens of thousands of dollars from the organization for pornography, rental cars and a consultation with a psychic.Charles Leinas, 45, faces a first-degree theft charge in King County Superior Court, after prosecutors said he stole more than $21,000 from the Spartan Baseball Club, a select baseball club for teenagers.Leinas could not be reached for comment. He is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 7. Leinas had been arrested Feb. 2 and charged Sept. 23.In January, Leinas served as the club’s treasurer and club President Robert Rosemont became concerned because the club’s bank account was overdrawn, charging documents state.Rosemont asked Leinas — who had control over a debit card and checkbook for the account — about the shortfall, but Leinas said the club had a deposit coming through soon to cover the expenses.Rosemont looked at the club’s bank statements and was surprised to find several questionable withdrawals and checks written to Leinas, court documents said.The purchases included mobile phone charges of more than $600, $17.50 to an Xbox Live account, $20 to an Internet psychic, more than $100 to a pornographic website and $71 to the Pacific Science Center.Nearly $4,000 in checks had been made out to Leinas, but he could not provide documentation indicating what the money was for, court documents state.Other club leaders confronted Leinas about the charges, and he agreed to resign. He later told investigators that he and Rosemount had made a verbal agreement that he would be paid for services to the club “outside the scope of his duties as treasurer,” the documents. Rosemount said no such agreement had been made.After resigning, Leinas offered to pay the club back, but later sent them a letter saying he only owed them a little more than $1,000 after his hours of work for the club were taken into account.

Monday, October 4, 2010

St. John Vianney Parish in Wisconsin victim of cybercrime

United States Secret Service agents are investigating how criminals stole $121,000 electronically last month from a Brookfield parish in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.St. John Vianney Parish was the victim of cybercrime or Internet crime, where individuals – no parish or bank employees are suspected of wrongdoing or involvement – made several unauthorized withdrawals from the parish’s general checking accounts, stealing money used for general parish operations. Several banks throughout the country have recovered and returned $84,000 of the funds that had been distributed into valid bank accounts of individuals under various names that appeared to be heading overseas, Fr. Phillip Bogacki stated in the Sept. 19 bulletin. The parish’s theft policy with Catholic Mutual Group, the administrator of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee participants insurance program, should cover the remaining $37,000 that wasn’t recoverable, minus its $1,000 deductible.“I was quite shocked given that we’ve had financial issues here before in the last few years,” Fr. Bogacki said of his reaction to the Aug. 19 phone call he received from the parish’s business manager, alerting him of the theft. “…I thought that, perhaps, it was a joke at first, but my first reaction after that was let’s figure out exactly what happened, let’s protect our funds and let’s respond to this very seriously.”
When Tri City National Bank, St. John Vianney’s commercial bank in Brookfield, contacted the parish’s accountant Aug. 19 of at least one unusual and unauthorized Automated Clearing House (ACH) withdrawal, or electronic transfer, from one of the parish accounts, she and the business manager checked the online accounts and found several unauthorized withdrawals that amounted to $121,000.“The bank immediately froze the account and started an investigation which revealed that the withdrawals were fraudulent and that we had been the victim of a sophisticated crime that involved the ACH network,” Fr. Bogacki’s statement said. “All our bank accounts were immediately closed, as standard operating procedure whenever there is a potential security violation to accounts, and all our accounts were opened with new account numbers.” Because the bank and parish were alert to what was happening in the account, they recovered as much money as they did, according to Fr. Bogacki, noting they were able to “catch some of the money in transit.”
Fr. Bogacki, who informed the two parish trustees and the parish council chair about the investigation into the missing funds, said Secret Service agents spent a few hours at the parish later that day interviewing people including him, a few parish staff members, trustees and council chair.“It was difficult as we didn’t want to alert the parish or even the larger staff to the fact that something had happened until we had gathered all the facts and realized exactly what had happened and that we were protected, so we were as quiet as possible with the interviews with the Secret Service agents,” said Fr. Bogacki, who was ordained in 2008 and has been temporary administrator at the parish since its pastor, Fr. Kenneth Knippel, went on sick leave a few weeks ago for reasons unrelated to the cybercrime.The bank assured Fr. Bogacki and the church staff involved “that the electronic banking information of individual parishioners, specifically stewardship contributions and tuition payments through EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer), were in no way compromised during this theft,” he said in the bulletin. If you think your parish is a victim of cybercrime, Jay Frymark, parish and school financial services director for the archdiocese, suggests contacting your bank – not the local police department – and alerting them of suspected fraud. “The bank will most likely then contact the treasury department and the FBI if they think that something’s going on,” he said, noting that while police can write a report, “that’s not going to stop your money from disappearing quickly. … Once the bank knows, their fraud department can start investigating and making the appropriate calls.”Fr. Bogacki said that advice bankers and police have been giving the parish the last several years still applies, “which is to use common sense; to watch, carefully, your bank accounts; to monitor, carefully, what’s going on with your finances; and to be aware of anything suspicious.” Fr. Bogacki said the archdiocese supported him and the parish from the beginning with help from Jay Frymark, parish and school financial services director, who spoke with Fr. Bogacki several times to assure him that the central offices would provide whatever assistance the parish needed, made sure that the parish was in contact with Catholic Mutual Group, and discussed the timing of communication, including the need to communicate with parish leadership about the events – especially the trustees (corporate officers) – before making general announcements. The priest was also in contact with Julie Wolf, communications director for the archdiocese, with whom he discussed how to best and most honestly disclose the information to the parish.“That’s one of the reasons we’re here,” Wolf said in an interview with your Catholic Herald, “to support the parishes. … we take very seriously the stewardship of donations that are given to our parishes and to the archdiocese.”Fr. Bogacki said they’ve since adjusted the parish’s ACH agreement with the bank by placing a permanent debit block on the account prohibiting electronic withdrawals. It’s a feature that John Marek, treasurer/chief financial officer for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese has on its accounts, and something he would recommend other parishes to discuss with their banks. “There may be a fee attached, but it then does not allow funds to be transferred out without approval from an authorized person at the parish,” Marek said in an interview with your Catholic Herald, explaining that there’s a possibility that a debit block could have helped in preventing the cybercrime at St. John Vianney.“I don’t know if you can ever be totally confident, but you can utilize what the banks do make available to try to make it much harder for criminals to target you,” Marek said. He also said that parishes should take caution when they access online banking, never accessing it from a public computer, “because you don’t know how secure that is.”Frymark, upon Marek’s request, will be sending an e-mail about St. John Vianney’s situation and what parishes can do, to send to parish finance staff, council chairs, trustees, directors of administrative services and others. “I think our take is going to be they need to speak with their individual bankers about their banking relationships, and find out what additional securities and controls they can put on that, because if someone really wants to break into someone’s account, these people (criminals) have the organization and the sophistication to do that kind of thing,” Frymark said, explaining that parishes need to be prepared as best they can, especially parishes like St. John Vianney. “I just think it’s because of the size of the parish and the fact that that’s the one they (criminals) were picking on,” Frymark said of why he thought the parish with 8,307 members and an annual budget of $4 million was a target of cybercrime. “…organized crime goes after the bigger dollars. They don’t pick on our $2,000 parishes.”Fr. Bogacki told parishioners in his bulletin statement that police in Orange County, Calif., arrested at least one person involved in the theft. It is unknown whether this cybercrime case is related to the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, which was notified Aug. 17 that $600,000 of diocesan funds was transferred to numerous recipients across the United States on Aug. 13 and 16. An Aug. 26 statement released by the diocese stated that $180,000 had been recovered at that time, and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation took possession of several diocesan computers. “The diocese remains in communication and full cooperation with the FBI,” it said, explaining that the insurance carrier and legal representative have been notified and consulted; law enforcement had been advised; no diocesan or bank staff is suspected; and that they, too, anticipate full restoration of the funds.Anne Cox, director of communications for the diocese and editor of the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Mirror, said that the diocese has also placed stricter controls to try to prevent this kind of theft in the future.John Hirt, Secret Service Resident Agent in Charge, could not comment on the ongoing investigation with St. John Vianney, but offered advice on how parishes can help to prevent similar situations. “If you get some sort of an e-mail and you don’t know who it’s from, don’t respond to it,” Hirt said in an interview with your Catholic Herald. “Don’t open up an e-mail that you weren’t expecting from someone.”Hirt also suggests that people stay away from unfamiliar Web sites. “If there’s something that seems a little suspicious claiming to be your bank, confirm that it is coming from the source it should be and that it isn’t somebody that’s trying to hack into your computer.”As they wait for results of the investigation, Fr. Bogacki said they expedited the hiring of an outside auditor to conduct the financial review that the archdiocese is asking all parishes to do, so that the auditor can then additionally look at the parish’s electronic controls so they can “close up any gaps if any are discovered.” “But the most immediate step is to continue to pray, and it’s to continue to move forward with our mission,” Fr. Bogacki said. “We have a mission to proclaim the Gospel and to teach and to preach and to celebrate the Eucharist, and while we do have setbacks and while, unfortunately, we rely on financial resources to do this, we continue to go on with our mission, and we don’t become distracted by this, and we continue to do what it is that we do best, which is to be a good, Catholic parish.”In light of everything, Fr. Bogacki said he’s thankful to the parishioners for their resilience and faithfulness. “They have responded so well to this news and they’ve been through so much, but are so faithful and so good, and I know that they will understand no matter what happens in the future – I know they’ll understand,” Fr. Bogacki said. “Even if we were to sustain this loss or some other tragedy in the future, our parish will come together. We’re a faith-filled community, and I’m so thankful to them for exhibiting that again in this situation and keeping this whole thing in the proper context.”

Friday, October 1, 2010

Former Bevill State Community College cashier agrees to plead guilty to embezzlement in Alabama

A former Bevill State Community College cashier and business office manager has agreed to plead guilty to embezzling $20,000 from the school, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Birmingham announced Friday. Janet Adams Bobo, 55, on Friday was charged with taking the money between May 2007 and May 2008 and agreed to plead guilty. The plea agreement states Bobo began taking money from a cash drawer several years earlier, according to a statement from Peggy Sanford, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance. An audit by the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts for the period Oct. 1, 2004 through May 23, 2008, uncovered the embezzlement, the statement read. The audit revealed Bobo had embezzled $113,763 from the college. She has repaid that amount, according to Sanford's statement.
"Mrs. Bobo has confessed to the embezzlements that extended over a period of years and has entered into an agreement with the United States to plead guilty to the information," Vance said in the press release. The maximum penalty for the embezzlement charge is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Ex-Pastor Found Guilty In Embezzling $1M From Church

A ex-pastor faces up to 90 years in prison after being convicted on Wednesday of embezzling more than $1 million from his former church.A Franklin County Common Pleas judge found David Thompson guilty of several charges, including theft, money laundering and tampering with records.Thompson was convicted for embezzling money from The World of Pentecost Church, located at 3431 East Main Street, between 1998 and 2007.Prosecutors said Thompson spent church funds on luxury cars, a pool, a boat and hair treatments.
tified earlier this month that he used money from the church's building fund for his lifestyle, but said it mostly went to run the church.Thompson is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1.

Woman ordered to pay $179,670 for embezzling from church in Colorado Springs, Colorado

A judge has ordered a former church bookkeeper to pay $179,670 in restitution and write an apology to members of a Colorado Springs congregation after she pleaded guilty to stealing church funds.Fourth Judicial District Judge Deborah Grohs sentenced Jennifer Lynne Butts on Sept. 22 after she had pleaded guilty to felony theft for taking money from the Calvary United Methodist Church.Grohs ordered Butts, 53, to serve 90 days of home detention plus 6 years probation and to perform 200 hours of community service. She also was ordered not to work as a bookkeeper or any job that involved financial management.Butts’ lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday. Some of the restitution has been paid. Court records showed a balance of $131,116 due on the day Butts was sentenced. That figure also included court costs.According to court records, the case came to light in November when a pastor called police to the church at 4210 Austin Bluffs Parkway to report that an ex-employee had admitted to stealing $13,000.Church officials had discovered the money was missing as the result of an audit. They told police that Butts had submitted a letter Nov. 25 admitting to the theft. In the letter, she stated that she used the money to pay medical bills for her daughter, who had suffered a skiing accident in Summit County in January 2009.I have no excuse but to say I was desperate. We were overwhelmed with lawyer and court bills,” the letter stated. “I kept this all to myself and tried to pay some of it off. I did not tell my husband because I was so ashamed. I really thought that I could get it paid back.”In March, police said a church auditor presented them with bank records showing fraudulent transactions totaling $106,977 from November 2007 to August 2009. The auditor told police that Butts concealed the theft by showing the money as having been paid for various church expenses.Pastor David Amrie said church officials were surprised when they learned of the theft.“We believe that justice has been done,” Amrie said Thursday. “We continue to hold Jennifer in our prayers.”