Friday, April 29, 2011

Former superintendent to plead guilty of embezzlement in South Carolina

Former Marion School District 2 Superintendent Dr. Nathaniel Miller is expected to plead guilty after being indicted by the state grand jury on charges relating to the embezzlement of more than $500,000 in public funds from both the Mullins-based district and Richland School District 1.

The case is being prosecuted by the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Communications Director Mark Plowden said Miller is expected to plead guilty Oct. 4 at Beaufort County Courthouse.
Miller and an associate, Samuel G. Lindo, were indicted Nov. 16 in a case in which law enforcement officials said, at the time of Miller’s arrest Jan. 19, 2010, he stole $503,199.50 in district funds. Most of the money was put to personal use, paying for the college tuition of various family members and other expenses.
Miller and Lindo were indicted on two counts of criminal conspiracy, three counts of embezzlement of $5,000 or more, 15 counts of obtaining signature or property by false pretenses of a value of $5,000 or more, and eight counts of obtaining signature or property by false pretenses of a value more than $1,000.
Miller was also indicted on nine other counts: embezzlement of $5,000 or more and eight counts of forgery involving an amount of $5000 or more. The crimes covered a span from 2006 to early 2010. State authorities were not able to determine if the indictment sums still added up to $503,199.50.
Each count carries sentences of five to 10 years.
According to a SLED arrest warrant affidavit, Miller “provided a voluntary statement to law enforcement on Jan. 13, 2010, which indicated he converted the funds for personal use. The state has independent evidence to corroborate the statement provided by Nathaniel Miller.”
The Marion County School Board of Education later approved Marion 1 Superintendent Michael Lupo to serve both Marion School Distracts 1 and 2 for the school year. The county’s three school districts — Marion 1, based in Marion, Marion 2, based in Mullins, and Marion 7, based in Centenary — are in the process of consolidating into a single district. On Jan. 26, the Marion County Board of Education hired former Columbus County Schools superintendent Dan Strickland as the county’s consolidated school district superintendent effective July 1.

California Charter School Founders To Stand Trial

The founders of a charter school in the San Fernando Valley will be arraigned next month on charges of embezzling more than $300,000.

After a monthlong preliminary hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Renee Korn ruled Wednesday there was sufficient evidence to require Yevgeny "Eugene" Selivanov, 38, to stand trial on 32 felony counts, including embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds and tax fraud, according to Deputy District Attorney Sandi Roth.
Selivanov's wife, Tatyana Berkovich, 33, was ordered to stand trial on 15 felony counts, including embezzlement, misappropriation of public funds and tax fraud, as well as one misdemeanor count of conflict of interest, according to the prosecutor, who is handling the case with colleague Dana Aratani.
Selivanov and Berkovich, who founded Ivy Academia charter school in 2004, are due back at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse on May 11.
In a letter sent to Ivy Academia parents last June, the school noted that the charges "will in no way interrupt Ivy's day-to-day operations."
The Los Angeles Unified School District's Office of the Inspector General began an audit of Ivy Academia charter school in June 2006.
The case was referred to the district's Office of Investigations in August 2006, then to the District Attorney's Public Integrity Division in May 2008. The state Franchise Tax Board also investigated the case.
Charter schools are operated with public funds.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Former school superintendent accused of embezzling money from south-central Okla. district

Garvin County prosecutors have accused the former Pauls Valley school superintendent of embezzling money from the district.

Sixty-year-old Bobby Russell was arrested Wednesday and booked into jail. A judge set bail at $20,000 and ordered Russell to return May 20 with proof he has retained an attorney or with an application to have counsel appointed for him.
Court records show Russell faces four counts of embezzlement and six counts of obtaining money by false pretense.
The Oklahoman reports that authorities allege Russell used two checks of $11,500 each from the district for his own purposes. Russell also is accused of getting two checks for $2,951 in 2009 for his wife, Debby Russell, as pay for summer school classes she didn't teach.
There was no telephone listing for Russell.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Riverview Baseball Booster Accused of Stealing Cash from Kids in Michigan

Baseball is America's favorite pastime, but a Riverview man is accused of doing something foul.

49-year-old Alan Benson was the president of the parent booster organization for Riverview High School baseball.
According to the superintendent, he was not an employee at the school, but did have an active roll in fundraising for the student athletes and collecting cash. Benson is accused of keeping some of that money.
He was recently arrested and is looking at felony charges for embezzling more than $1,000 but less than $20,000 and writing bad checks.
This all supposedly happened last year, but keep in mind these are just allegations.
This isn't the first time Benson's been in trouble with the law.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pay ends Friday for two Pickens, South Carolina school employees

The School District of Pickens County Tuesday announced that the suspended Liberty High School principal and bookkeeper have now both been suspended without pay.

After the Pickens County school board voted Monday night to stop paying the school district’s employees, the board did not name the employees. Also, the payment of the two employees continues until Friday.
Tuesday’s statement does not name Liberty High School Principal Randy Gilstrap or bookkeeper Buea DeNard by name, but by job title. Both are charged with embezzlement.
According to the brief statement from the school district, “Legal steps are still being taken regarding the employment of the Liberty High School principal and bookkeeper. While those steps are in process, the district’s intent is to change each employee’s status to ‘suspension without pay’ effective Friday, April 29.”
Gilstrap and DeNard, both of whom have worked for the Pickens County school district for more than a decade, were charged this month with taking money from the school and the district. Their futures were discussed in an hour-long closed session Monday that included several other items.
Gilstrap is charged with embezzling more than $10,000 from Liberty High School and from the school district between November 2008 and February of this year. DeNard is accused of embezzling less than $10,000 between 2009 and February of this year.
When the school board came out of the closed session Monday, members voted unanimously to “sustain the superintendent’s decision to suspend the employment of a professional employee of the district.”
The board’s motion cites a section of South Carolina law that deals with suspension of educators, and officials said that portion of the law would apply to those accused of criminal acts.
The board’s Monday night motion says that Superintendent Henry Hunt is authorized to “discontinue the pay of the employee upon notice to the employee.”
The worker may also have the right to a hearing on the matter. Hunt said he and the board are following the state Fair Employment and Dismissal Act.
Lawyers for the charged workers are communicating with the school district’s attorneys.
School district spokeswoman Julie Thompson said Columbia lawyer Jane Turner is representing the district. Calls were not returned from her on Tuesday.
In the meantime, school board members say they cannot say much.
“We are going through a series of legal hurdles at this time,” board chairman Alex Saitta said.
Vice chairman Jim Shelton was equally cautious.
“This is a personnel issue, a legal issue,” he said. “It is really outside the board’s purview.”
Several days may pass before the school district or Hunt issues more public statements about any actions.
“Anything we do, we’ve got to let them know first,” school board member Ben Trotter said.
“There are procedures we have to go through, and what we’re doing now is waiting on them to respond. The ball is in their court, not ours.”
Both Gilstrap and Denard have been suspended with pay since February. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is still investigating.
The state Board of Education has the power to issue a final order after a court verdict, said Jim Oster, director of communications for the board. He would not comment on the Liberty case, but said the board has the power to revoke teaching certificates.
“When somebody’s charged with a crime (the board) typically will wait until the jurisdiction system has run its course before it makes a decision on the educator’s certificate,” Oster said.
The board can suspend a certificate without a formal hearing if a crime places the health, welfare or safety of students at risk. That is not the case in Liberty, he said.
Lori Gwinn, an assistant principal at Liberty High, continues to work as the school’s interim principal.

Ohio Judge Sentences Byram to 3 Years Probation for Embezzlement

This afternoon, Sarah Clayton-Byram stood before Judge Christopher Gee on a charge of embezzlement from Broadway PALS (Parents Actively Linked with School) an organization where Mrs. Byram served as its Treasurer.

Mrs. Byram plead guilty to the charge of embezzlement during her arraignment in March and was sentenced today by Judge Gee to three (3) years probation and was also ordered to take a college level class in financial management that she will pay for herself. Mrs. Byram has since paid restitution to the PALS organization in the full amount ($38,000) and stated in court today that she “deeply regrets and unconditionally apologizes to the PALS organization, to its board members, to the children it supports and to the Tipp City community, for the crime that I have committed”
Andi Trzeciak, Board Chair for Broadway PALS shared with TippNews that “the PALS board is happy that we can move forward and look forward to the future of PALS. The Board had previously agreed to remain silent after the arraignment and will remain silent regarding (Mrs. Byram’s) sentencing. Mrs. Byram has made restitution to the organization, and we are looking towards Fun Fair”. Fun Fair is the organization’s largest fundraising event of the year and occurs this Friday at Broadway Elementary, located at 223 West Broadway Avenue, Tipp City.

Michigan State police investigate allegations of embezzlement from Boys & Girls Clubs of Bay County

A former employee of the Boys & Girls Club could soon be charged with embezzling from the nonprofit organization’s Bay County units.

Staff at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bay County noticed suspicious activity with an employee earlier this year. The employee resigned in February after being informed of the staff’s investigation.
Staff in March requested assistance from the Michigan State Police Bay City Post.
As a result of their investigation, troopers on Friday executed search warrants on two Bay County residences. Troopers report they have identified the suspect and interviewed several witnesses.
They did not state whether or not the suspect is in custody, only that their investigation is ongoing and they plan on releasing more updates.
Anyone with information is urged to call troopers at 684-2234.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Bay County have three locations — 300 West Lafayette St. in Bay City, 805 Langstaff St. in Hughes Elementary School in Essexville and 201 North St. in Pinconning.
Boys & Girls Clubs officials could not comment on the matter.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Drake U. Hit With $600,000 Embezzlement

Robert A. Harlan worked for Drake University for over 20 years - and starting in 2004, authorities allege, he embezzled more than $600,000 from the school, an allegation that stunned his colleagues.

"There was a strong sense of betrayal when this happened," said Victoria Payseur, vice president for business and finance and the university's treasurer.
Harlan, 49, of Des Moines, turned himself in to police about 8 a.m. Thursday.
He admitted that he took money but didn't think it added up to $600,000, Detective Tarry Pote said, and he reportedly told investigators he gave the money away to friends, family, the needy and a church.
Harlan faces five counts of first-degree theft, one for each year of the last five years that police used in figuring charges. The total taken over that period is listed at $470,000.
The total that disappeared from the university since 2004, however, is more than $600,000.
Over the last 10 years, Harlan had held the title of director of student accounts at the university. Police said he appeared to be the only person involved in the theft.
Harlan arrived at the police station Thursday morning with his wife. He was taken to Polk County Jail for processing. Officials said he posted bond.
First-degree theft is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison on each count.
Police are seeking Harlan's bank records, but he told investigators they would not find the money there. A check with Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino did not turn up evidence that the suspect had been gambling there on a frequent basis.
Investigators also did not see evidence of large sums being spent on his residence.
Payseur said Thursday that the problems were limited to one office and that the university reacted appropriately when it learned that money had been disappearing for years.
"Internal financial controls were circumvented by a veteran employee with knowledge of those controls," she said.
She said that an employee of the business and finance operation at the university uncovered the alleged fraud and that Drake officials immediately notified legal counsel and auditors.
Harlan was then fired.
Payseur said the university has significant internal controls in place to prevent fraud and theft. Additional procedures now are being implemented.
No current student accounts, federal or state money, payroll information, investment accounts, donor information or credit card information appears to have been affected, she said.
The fund from which the money was taken was "almost like a petty cash fund," Payseur said.
Police stress that the money was taken over several years. The annual operating budget for Drake this year is $125 million.
In the west-side neighborhood where Harlan resides, the news of his arrest came as a surprise.
"All I know about him is nice," said Marilyn Brown. "I like living by them. They are very good neighbors."
Next-door neighbor James Cooney said, "We're all surprised by it. He's a very good neighbor. No one suspected anything like this, of course."
He said Harlan's wife, Deanne, is known around the neighborhood as a good cook. They have a son who attends Drake.
Cooney said the Harlan family attends the same church that he attends, Holy Trinity Catholic Church on Beaver Avenue.
Drake University President David Maxwell said Wednesday that a pair of university audits failed to turn up a pattern of missing money from student accounts more than a year ago. Auditors were asked to look at that part of the budget.
He said small sums were taken fairly regularly. "Audits don't always turn up fraud," Maxwell said.
Insurance is expected to cover Drake's losses.

Woodbridge, Virginia High School crew president gets 12 months for embezzlement

The former president of Woodbridge High School’s crew association was sentenced this week to serve 12 months in jail for embezzlement.

William Frank Schwentner III, 40, of Lake Ridge, pleaded guilty in January to two counts of embezzlement for stealing over $68,000 from Woodbridge Crew Inc., the nonprofit booster club for the Woodbridge High School crew team.
According to court documents, Schwentner was the president of the group and began also serving as the treasurer in July 2009.
In March 2010, other members of the group’s board of directors began to notice problems with the group’s finances and soon discovered that Schwentner had been writing checks to himself from of the organization’s bank accounts, court documents state.
Schwentner used the money to make personal purchases and to pay off credit card debt, police and prosecutors said.
In court documents, defense attorney Bruce Blanchard said that Schwentner began taking money when “his family’s financial situation was precarious at best.”
He said Schwentner intended to use the money as a loan to cover personal expenses and pay it back, but eventually got carried away and lost track of how much money he had taken, Blanchard said in court documents.
In one case, Schwentner used a credit card belonging to Woodbridge Crew Inc. to purchase new kitchen cabinets for his house for about $2,300, according to a search warrant.
Schwentner admitted to stealing a total of $68,833.28 from the crew team, court documents state.
He was sentenced Thursday to serve 12 months in jail and five years of probation, and was ordered to pay full restitution to the crew association. According to court documents, Schwentner has paid back a portion of the money and still owes $38,354. Schwentner has already served five months in jail and will get credit for time served.
In court documents, parents of crew team members said the group, which gets money through fundraisers and donations, has been struggling financially since Schwentner’s theft, and has had to cut back on some purchases and programs, including a scholarship program for crew team members.
According to court documents, in October 2010, Schwentner was also charged with embezzling from his employer in Fairfax County, and is currently serving a six-month jail sentence there.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tennessee Church Secretary Charged with embezzling more than $200,000 from church

A Bristol woman was charged Thursday with embezzling more than $200,000 from a Johnson City church as the church’s secretary.
Jessica Lynn Tramel, 32, 916 Weaver Pike, Bristol, was charged with 150 counts of forgery, theft of property over $60,000 and identity theft.
Police said in a news release Tramel’s arrest resulted from an investigation into an embezzlement report filed by the Unaka Avenue Baptist Church staff stating that funds were missing from the church bank account. An audit indicated that $229,265 was missing.
According to the police report, the embezzlement occurred during the past three years.
Police said the investigation revealed Tramel, who was employed as the church secretary and whose duties included handling financial records, diverted funds from the checking account by forging checks and making them payable to her.
According to a police report on the embezzlement, Tramel had arranged through the bank to be authorized to transfer funds from the church’s line of credit with the bank to cover the missing checking account funds.
The church staff also told police in the report that the church credit card was nearly maxed out with illicit purchases.
Tramel was terminated from her position with the church prior to her arrest. She reportedly told church staff she used the money for gas and groceries.
Tramel was jailed in the Washington County Detention Center on $210,000 bond pending a Sessions Court hearing Monday.

Former charter school officials charged with embezzlement in Philadelphia

Two former officials of New Media Technology Charter School face embezzlement charges for allegedly funneling $522,000 to a private school they controlled, their personal business ventures and their own expenses.

Former board president Hugh C. Clark and former CEO Ina M. Walker face 27 counts of wire fraud, conspiracy and theft from the federally funded Northwest Philadelphia school.
A report from the U.S. Attorney's office says the pair funneled more than $300,000 alone to the Lotus Academy in Germantown, which housed New Media operations. The crimes resulted in New Media being unable to make some payments, the indictment states.
If convicted, Clark and Walker each face a substantial term of imprisonment, three years supervised release, a $6,750,000 fine and a $2,700 special assessment.

Anchorage School District Employees Face Embezzlement Charges

The Anchorage School District comes under fire again today (4/21) after officials reveal several district employees are facing charges for embezzlement.

One Chugiak high school employee has been charged with felony theft and falsification of business documents and three other employees from Chugiak, West and O'Malley elementary are under investigation.
Superintendent carol comeau says tens of thousands of dollars were potentially stolen, but police are still unsure when the theft began and exactly how much was taken.
While the money was taken from activity fees, fines, and other cash transactions; Comeau says all student have been reimbursed and the four employees in question have been fired.
"We're taking this very, very seriously," said Carol Comeau, superintendent for the Anchorage School District. "We appreciate the employees who stepped forward and reported it, and they took a risk, because they're their colleagues that they reported, but on the same token they knew it was wrong and they wanted it to stop."
Officials say hundreds of thousands of dollars pass through Anchorage's high schools annually and roughly 20 percent are cash transactions.
However despite the thousands of dollars in cash flowing through schools every day, Chief Financial Officer Chad Stiteler says the district relies primarily on a manual accounting system.
Cash transactions are documented by hand and the terminated employees were able to siphon student funds without raising any red flags within the system.
While Stiteler calls the district's financial controls "reasonable" the crimes were eventually brought to light by concerned parents and coworkers rather than a discrepancy in district records.
"We'll be moving away from paper receipts," said Chad Stiteler, CFO for the Anchorage School District. "We'll be automating it through our financial system so that we can centrally have a great emphasis of oversight, to be able to point out any concerns that we see, centrally, to the school supervisors."
The district is still working towards implementing an automated accounting system.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Church treasurer charged with embezzling from congregation in Michigan

A St. Joseph man is accused of abusing the trust of his church. Jon Michael Rupple was charged with embezzling more than $100.000 from Saint Peter's Church in Saint Joe. The long-time member will be arraigned later this month. For almost a decade, Ruppel allegedly took money from the Sunday offering for his own use.

He was arrested March 11 and released from custody on March 12.
St. Joseph Police declined to comment, but Probable Cause documents show almost a decade and $260,000 worth of theft.
According to the document, St. Peter's Church Board President and Secretary noticed a $300,000 account was left with only $500. Ruppel and one other person had access to the account.

PTO treasurer arrested after cash vanishes in New Hampshire

A member of North Canton Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Organization was recently charged with fraud and embezzlement after nearly $8,000 was discovered missing from a PTO account.

Susan Rider, 38, of Clyde, was serving as treasurer of the North Canton PTO when other officials noticed a “drastic change in the balance of the account,” said Dr. Bill Nolte, associate superintendent of Haywood County Schools.
The case was referred to Canton Det. Brad Shirley, who initiated an investigation that ultimately led to Rider’s arrest. She is charged with embezzlement and two counts of fraud, forging and uttering.
Rider is accused of misusing a PTO credit card to withdraw cash and make unauthorized purchases on a number of occasions between Jan. 19 and Feb. 28, totaling approximately $7,851, Canton Police Chief Brian Whitner said. She is also accused of forging signatures on at least two checks.
Nolte explained that Parent Teacher Organizations and their accounts are totally separate from school accounts.
“PTO’s are separate organizations and have their own board, their own accounts and own signatures,” he said. “But we were given a tip that an account had gone from a really hefty balance down to zero, and what we did was notify the principal who asked the president of the PTO to please to freeze the account and give the information to law enforcement.”
School officials have no governing authority over PTOs, said Nolte. The objective of parent teacher organizations is to drive fundraising efforts for respective schools. Typically, members include volunteers who work closely with school officials to raise funding for specific needs – often needy students and/or needed school equipment.
“The vast majority of the time these are dedicated hardworking volunteers who want to make more resources available to students,” he said. “Perspective wise, we want folks to understand that we are very supportive of all the work that volunteers do to help our students. This is not our account, and not a group of people that we govern. …It’s really unfortunate any time funds get misused. In this particular case, we’re thankful it wasn’t taxpayer dollars, that it was funds raised by that school’s PTO but it still doesn’t make it that much better.”
Ultimately, school officials would just like to see the PTO get their money back, Nolte said.
“The sad thing is that those funds were raised in that community by people who cared about that school. And typically, they raise money in pretty small amounts, like a quarter or dollar at a time… that’s the part that is really, really sad,” he said. “That community and PTO leadership worked with school officials to raise funds for that school and it wasn’t like some wealthy contributor dropped that money on the school. People worked really hard to raise that money. It’s more personal than someone taking $50 from a business.”
Rider turned herself in to police to be charged, was released from police custody under $10,000 bond. She will make her first court appearance April 4

Woman embezzled at least $20K from Northern Neck Tech Center in Virginia

A Warsaw woman is facing the possibility of jail time after a trip to the liquor store resulted in a massive investigation into misappropriation of public funds.

On April 18, Pamela Bragg pleaded guilty to one charge of felony embezzlement, after evidence was uncovered linking her to the theft of over $20,000. The charges stem from a series of schemes at the Northern Neck Technical Center, where Bragg was the financial director for nearly a decade.
According to Richmond County Commonwealth's Attorney Wayne Emery, the crimes came to light after a Northern Neck Bank employee became concerned about charges being made to the Tech Center's credit card.
"There were several recent purchases on the card that appeared unusual," Emery said in court. "One by reason of who the vendor was, the ABC store, and another by the amount of the purchase, over $800. Bragg would normally have handled the call but she was not in the office that day."
According to Emery, school principal Larry Long repeatedly asked Bragg to investigate the cause of the charges, but she took no action. Additionally, when asked, Bragg claimed to have no knowledge of anyone who could have made the purchases.
When it went unresolved the bank informed Long, for his protection, to report the fraud to the Sheriff's office. Investigators went to the ABC store, where video evidence was discovered showing Bragg making the purchases.
Aided by the Virginia State Police, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office decided to see if there might have been any additional fraud.
"What was found as a result of the investigation was stunning," Emery said. "Although sufficient evidence was discovered to lead the commonwealth to suspect that Bragg's embezzlement began as early as 2001, this office determined that proof rising to the standard beyond all reasonable doubt existed only for 2006 to 2008."
Emery added that conclusive evidence showed Bragg embezzled at least $20,550, with an additional $15,000 in "highly questionable activity."
The funds were siphoned off in various ways, including cashing over $1,200 in dividend checks, $1,974 of unauthorized charges to the Center's Visa card, $1,207 in gas charged to the Center's account and $7,284 in cash taken from the profits of vending machines and fund raising projects.
"On at least eight occasions she wrote checks, the largest being $2,563, on the Center's activity account [that were meant] to pay Visa," Emery said. "Those checks were endorsed by her and deposited directly into her personal account. No subsequent checks went to Visa nor were the funds represented by those checks returned to the Tech Center."
The intentional non-payment of the bills had an unintentional side effect. Her failure to pay the bills on time resulted in unnecessary payments in interest being charged on debts carried over," Emery said, adding that the total loss from the check scheme came to $6,621 with an additional $2, 228 in interest charges.
Originally charged with four felonies, Emery decided not to prosecute on charges of credit card theft, misuse of public funds and use of public assets in return for the guilty plea to embezzlement. Bragg will be sentenced on July 17. According to state code, felony embezzlement is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Former Va. Beach pastor charged with embezzlement

Police have charged the former pastor of a Baptist church with fraud and embezzlement after representatives from the church accused him of stealing thousands of dollars from the congregation.

Lamont Duane Brown, 45, of Suffolk, is accused of taking money from Mount Olive Baptist Church between June 2003 and July 2010, according to police and General District Court records online. He'd been a pastor for about 15 years before the church terminated his employment last year.
Brown is accused of increasing his salary without church approval, opening a credit card in the church's name and using it to pay for more than $6,000 in personal expenses, and writing three bad checks to the church, each for $1,000, said Officer Jimmy Barnes, a police spokesman.
Police arrested Brown on March 10 on felony charges of embezzlement, identity theft, credit card fraud and three counts of writing bad checks. He's been released on $7,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in court April 22.
Brown's attorney, Sonny Stallings, said the church accidentally overpaid him by $10,000 in 2009 and had worked out an agreement where he repaid $1,000 each month.
He paid back $4,000 but bounced three $1,000 checks, he said.
Brown did open a credit card jointly in his name and the church's name, but he made the payments, Stallings said.
Brown owes Mount Olive about $6,000, a debt that should be settled in civil, not criminal, court, Stallings said.
"When this gets to criminal court, I predict all these charge are going to be thrown out," Stallings said. "This is a faction of that church being vindictive."
Mount Olive Baptist Church is on North Birdneck Road in Seatack and is one of the city's oldest black congregations. It has about 300 members, said Isaac Smith Sr., a church deacon.

Former Michigan employee suspected of embezzling money from church

A congregation is trying to heal after one of their own becomes stuck in the middle of an embezzlement investigation.

Officials at the First United Methodist Church in Battle Creek filed a police report after an audit uncovered thousands of dollars missing from the church's account.
Pastor Billie Dalton tells NEWSCHANNEL 3, that the church is waiting to hear back from a final audit report but believes that nearly $36,000 was embezzled from the church.
The audit was performed sometime in the middle of March.
The suspect resigned eight days before the discrepancies were found by auditors.
Pastor Billie Dalton says that the church has been totally victimized, and while he forgives and loves the person they will be held accountable for their actions.
The final audit is expected sometime next week.

Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

A Penderbrook man accused of stealing more than $700,000 from an organization that helps the world’s poor pleaded guilty March 4 to three counts of embezzlement. He is Eun Tae Lee, 51, of Wedgeway Court in Fair Oaks.

Deputy Charles Perinis, an investigator with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, explained the case against him in a March 30, 2010 affidavit for a warrant to search Lee’s home for possible evidence.
According to the affidavit, on March 26, 2010, members of the SEED International — a faith-based, nonprofit in Sterling — told authorities that their former financial officer, Lee, had embezzled "in excess of $700,000 from their organization. They informed [Perinis] that Lee accomplished this by gaining control of the church’s bank accounts and writing checks from these accounts to individual accounts he’d established in his own name."
The deputy wrote that Lee then used this money "to support a lavish lifestyle that included his residence on Wedgeway Court, the rent for an apartment at 4602 Commons Drive in Annandale, the purchase of a 2006 Porsche Cayenne [SUV] and his personal living expenses."
Furthermore, wrote Perinis, when members of SEED International asked Lee about the missing money, he "produced counterfeit financial documents and bank statements to show a falsified investment of the church’s funds." The deputy noted that, upon questioning, a bank representative confirmed that the bank letters and statements "were, in fact, counterfeit."
SEED International assists missionaries from a Sterling-based church with funding. The group’s Web site states its goal as "to provide humanitarian aid and services to the poorest of the poor in the developing world, especially in the areas of Survival, Education, and Economic Development" (SEED).
Lee turned himself in to the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office on April 15, 2010, and was charged with 16 counts of embezzlement. Then on July 12 of that year, the Loudoun County grand jury indicted him on every count
After various delays, he was scheduled for a March 14 jury trial but, instead, pleaded guilty to three counts of embezzlement on March 4. In exchange, the other 13 counts were dropped. Judge Thomas Horne then set his sentencing for June 30.

Woman sentenced for embezzling from Florida church

Jeana Michelle Adams, a former bookkeeper at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Crestview, will serve two years in prison for stealing church funds.

Adams was actually sentenced to 15 years, but Circuit Court Judge Michael Flowers suspended 13 years as a term of her no contest plea entered Monday.
If she breaks the law during the extended period of probation, Adams will face 13 years of incarceration.
Adams was arrested in February 2010, months after church deacons and accountants uncovered documents showing the seven-year employee had forged more than 100 congregation checks.
Investigators determined Adams had taken more than $300,000 from her church. She was charged with grand larceny, forgery, passing a forged document and racketeering.
At Monday’s sentencing, the church sought no restitution. Given the amount of money taken, though, Flowers delayed granting the church request to give the congregation time to reconsider.
“It was a tremendous amount of money,” said Assistant State Attorney Angela Mason, who prosecuted the case.
At Monday’s hearing, Brad Stewart, Adams’ attorney, requested the court lessen his client’s sentence due to the unsophisticated nature of her crime.
Mason said she countered the argument by pointing out that Adams had mapped out wells in Africa she’d conned church members into believing they’d built with money she had actually stolen.
Flowers sided with the prosecution.
“He definitely made the point that theft from churches in Okaloosa County won’t be tolerated,” Mason said.
Stewart said he hoped Monday’s sentencing would bring “closure” for the church and the Adams family

Police Concluding Danville, California Church Embezzlement Case

East Bay police Monday night were close to wrapping up an investigation involving an embezzlement scheme at a Danville church involving hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.

The crime took place at St. Isidore Catholic Church in Danville. KTVU first reported on the embezzlement last September. That was when the investigation began after church officials contacted authorities about apparent financial irregularities.
The pastor told parishioners Sunday that a “staggering” amount of money from donations was embezzled.
After a more than six-month investigation Danville Police Chief Steve Simpkins told KTVU he expects investigators to turn the case over to the Contra Costa County District Attorney as soon as this week.
Sources told KTVU "multiple" people appear to be involved in a complex scheme that netted hundreds of thousands of dollars in church donations over a period of several years.
Sources said one of the central figures in the investigation is a trusted former church employee who worked in the church office located across the street from St. Isadore.
KTVU was not revealing that person's name because charges have not been filed, but most of the members of St. Isidore seem to know who it is.
"I loved her. I thought she was great," said church member Diana Nagy. "You'd just never in a million years would you think that would be happening with her."
Father Jerry Moran told his congregation those irregularities include forging signatures, improper electronic fund transfers and unauthorized credit card use.
KTVU spoke to church members after Monday mass.
"I feel sorry for that person, who has my sympathies, but it doesn't do anything to me as far as my faith," said St. Isidore parishioner Pat McGuire.
Police Chief Simpkins told KTVU it appeared those who embezzled the church donations used the money not for charity as intended, but for personal use.
The church said it now has safeguards in place.

Police probing embezzlement at Mt. Airy, North Carolina Church

Mount Airy police are investigating the alleged embezzlement of more than $13,000 from one of the area’s largest churches.
The crime was reported last week by an official of Central United Methodist Church at 1909 N. Main St., who advised that an employee there had used a credit card for unauthorized purchases and payments.
The crime allegedly was committed by a female employee of Central United Methodist, whom Police Chief Dale Watson said worked in a “fiduciary capacity” that provided access to its finances.
“This person had access to a church purchasing card,” said R.B. Davis of the city police Detective Division, which is investigating the case.
“It did transpire over a period of time,” the detective added of the suspected embezzlement.
The exact sum taken is said to be $13,473, which included both cash and credit card funds, according to police records.
A portion of the missing proceeds has been repaid, according to Watson.
Meanwhile, no charges have been filed in the case pending further review.
“We’ll be contacting the District Attorney’s Office to get their advice” on which way to proceed from here, the police chief explained Monday.
Police records indicate that the alleged wrongdoing was discovered in January, but there was no word Monday on how it came to light. Mount Airy attorney Ed Woltz, whose family has long been associated with Central United Methodist Church, reported the matter to police.
The church’s congregation is said to have been advised of the situation in an announcement Sunday morning.
Questions to the church Monday afternoon regarding the case were referred to Allen Edwards, lay leader at Central United Methodist, who could not be reached for comment.

Read more: Mount Airy News - Your source for local news, classifieds, business listings and events in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

10 Ways to Prevent Embezzlement of Church Funds

Almost every other week I receive a message of another church that has had funds embezzled from God's House. The reasons are as varied as the person who has stolen from the church. Sometimes, the person steals because of a financial crisis in his own life or in the lives of immediate family members. On the other hand, the person might be stealing just for the fun of it.

It does not seem to matter what the age of the person who is embezzling money. I have had experience with teenagers to senior adults being involved in this crime. One factor seems to be constant in all the cases; church members were surprised that the person embezzled the funds because the church trusted the person.

There are several things every church needs to do to help prevent this terrible crime from happening to their church. The church must guard itself and help protect the church treasurer and other financial leaders from even a hint that embezzlement of church funds is possible.

1. An annual financial review of church records needs to conducted by the church finance committee or appointed ad hoc committee.

The internal review is necessary to ensure that all church funds are spent according to the wishes of the church. If the financial review committee discovers a problem with the financial records, then the committee should contact an outside auditor to complete the investigation. If the outside auditor discovers embezzlement has occurred, then the local police authorities should be contacted for proper action.

2. Full disclosure of all church receipts and expenditures including love offerings should be reported to the congregation annually.

The detailed financial report should comply with IRS record-keeping guidelines.

3. The church should require two signatures on checks for all church expenditures.

On-line bill payments should be verified by two signatures on the paper print-out. A check signer should never sign a blank check. Finally, the church financial secretary should not be one of the check signers. In many churches, the financial secretary receives and deposits part of the church’s income. This would be a conflict of interest if she spent the money, too.

4. The church treasurer should not receive or count the church’s income.

However, if the church treasurer occasionally receives church income, then the treasurer should record the income in a ledger that is available for public inspection. The church treasurer should never take the church’s offering home with him or deposit the church’s offering. This is the responsibility of other financial leaders.

5. The church should use sealed bank security bags for church offerings.

Sunday morning worship service and Sunday School offerings should be taken to the bank immediately following the morning service.

6. At least two unrelated individuals should receive the church offering during the worship services and Sunday School.

If possible, these individual should rotate with other individuals in their responsibilities.

7. Likewise, church should rotate the money counters or tellers.

As a general rule, the treasurer should not count the money but she can be available to assist the counters or tellers.

8. Church offerings of currency should be counted and recorded on bank deposit receipts.

The currency should be listed as dollars, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies on the deposit slip. The deposit slips should be kept as part of the church’s financial recordkeeping.

9. A copy of the church financial records should be kept at the church.

The church treasurer can process the recordkeeping at home, but the permanent records should be kept at the church. Also, contribution credit statements should be made available to everyone who has given to the church.

10. The church should track giving patterns over time.

Questions should be asked such as has the loose currency decreased or increased? Has income suddenly increased or decreased? Some churches even send marked currency through the system to make sure the offerings are received fully.

The church treasurer should take the lead in recommending these suggestions to help protect his name and reputation plus help prevent embezzlement of church funds. Likewise, the church financial leadership needs to listen and act upon the responsible suggestions made by the church treasurer. If a church thinks it is beyond this serious crime happening to them, then they are sadly mistaken.