Friday, September 23, 2011

Ex-church treasurer in Neiilsville gets jail for embezzling $127,000 in Wisconsin

A Neillsville church treasurer guilty in an embezzlement scam was sentenced Thursday to six months in jail and ordered to pay $127,555 in restitution.

John L. Roenz, 63, of Neillsville began repaying Calvary Lutheran Church immediately, ponying up $100,000 of his restitution shortly after he was sentenced, according to a Clark County clerk of courts official.
Roenz was sentenced to 20 days in jail, after which he will be eligible for electronic monitoring. He also was sentenced to 36 months of probation and is required to perform 1,250 hours of community service.
Roenz pleaded guilty June 29 to one felony count of theft and two felony counts of fraud. He initially was charged in March with 12 felony counts for embezzling $132,430 from the church since 2004.
Records indicate Roenz, a former teacher in the Neillsville school district, wrote 1,176 checks totaling $140,055 to himself since 2003, but state law allows him to be charged only for offenses dating to 2004.
Roenz said he wrote checks to himself, cashed them, paid bills with the cash and destroyed the receipts at the end of each year.
The church treasurer for about 24 years, Roenz told police he stole from the church only in 2010. He said he was angry at the Calvary congregation because it was operating in the red and "no one cared, so he thought he would just take the money."
Roenz also told police he occasionally gambled and used most of the money for "going out to eat." He failed to pay $8,684 in state income tax from 2004 through 2009.

Church reports embezzlement in South Bend, Indiana

South Bend police are investigating an alleged embezzlement at the New Jurasalem Baptist Church in the 200 block of North Johnson Street.

The suspects in the case, a man and a woman, are reportedly former employees of the church. They are accused of embezzling about $2,500, according to a police report.
Police say the alleged misappropriation originated from a First Source Bank checking account the two were authorized to use. One of the suspects reportedly had access to write checks.
The alleged offenses occurred between Aug. 11 and Sept. 12.
The case has been turned over to a fraud investigator. No arrests have been made

Former Cave Spring Elementary PTA treasurer gets 6 months in jail in Virginia

Despite repaying the almost $25,000 she stole and reading a tearful apology to Cave Spring Elementary School in court, Melissa Brown Neal earned a sentence of six months in jail for embezzling and forging checks from the school's PTA.

Neal, 38, was sentenced Monday in Roanoke County Circuit Court to four years for two felony convictions of forgery and eight years for two felony convictions of embezzlement. Judge Jim Swanson suspended all but 180 days in jail and four years probation from that 12-year sentence. Neal will learn next week whether she will be eligible to serve the 180 days on house arrest, which would allow her to continue to work.
Neal's attorney, Tony Anderson, had asked the judge not to send her to jail because she had repaid the group in full and given back to the community.
"Once all this came to light, you did everything right," Swanson told Neal before stating her sentence. "It doesn't erase that what you did occurred, what you did was wrong, what you did was recurrent."
Swanson added that he sentenced her to jail because of the message it would send back to the teachers, students and families who know about the situation and had supported the PTA.
Neal, a mother and accountant, was the group's volunteer treasurer since 2006. During the 2009-2010 school year she wrote checks to herself and signed the name of the PTA president, according to court documents.
At first, investigators thought the amount of money missing was a few thousand dollars.
Later in a taped confession to police, Neal said she needed the money to pay for a line of credit that had ballooned.
In May, she pleaded no contest to nine felony charges.
"It was a snowball effect," she wrote in an email to former PTA President Keller Sadler. "I hardly recognize myself."
Neal repeated the sentiments in court Monday as she read from a prepared statement and wiped tears from her cheeks.
The PTA hasn't dwelt on the incident, and Cave Spring staff, teachers and parents continue to support the group, current PTA President Jackie Martin wrote in an email.
This year, the group expects to bring in $44,700 through fundraising activities, less than $500 short of what the group raised during 2009-2010, when Neal committed her crimes, according to a proposed budget available on the group's website.
There's a possibility that Neal could spend most or all of her sentence on house arrest, a decision made by the Roanoke County Sheriff's Office - not the judge - when she reports to jail Monday.
To decide whether she'll qualify for house arrest, the sheriff's office will perform a background check and review her criminal record, which includes no run-ins with the law other than a speeding ticket, her attorney said. If placed under house arrest, Neal would wear a GPS tracker, take weekly drug and alcohol tests and may continue to do essential tasks, such as go to work, according to sheriff's Deputy Michael Arrington.
Since March, Neal has been employed by Laura Reed Wright, a lawyer with a small practice in the area.
Wright told the judge Monday that she trusts Neal and has allowed her to print checks for her business but not sign them.
"She's not placed the blame anywhere other than her own shoulders," said Wright, who met Neal last year through their children. "I entrust her with my child, who's my most prized possession."

Ex-Lawrence in Massachusetts school chief heads to trial in Nov.


The fraud and embezzlement trial of former Lawrence public schools Superintendent Wilfredo Laboy has been set for late November.

The Nov. 29 trial date was scheduled Monday during a pretrial hearing in Salem Superior Court.
Laboy has pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and embezzlement for allegedly using school department employees and resources for his own purposes, and to one count of illegal possession of alcohol on school property.
Laboy, hired in 2000, was fired by the School Committee in April 2010, about a month after he was indicted and arraigned.
Some 6,000 pieces of evidence have been submitted in the case, including school contracts, travel and expense documents, grand jury testimony

Prominent pastor faces probe over alleged embezzlement in Korea

Rev. Cho Yong-gi, the founder of one of the world's largest Christian churches, may face an investigation by prosecutors over allegations that he and his family embezzled large amounts of church funds, church elders said Tuesday.

A group of 29 elders at Yeouido Full Gospel Church in Seoul filed a suit Monday against Cho and his first son Cho Hee-jun, the former CEO of the church-affiliated local daily Kookmin Ilbo, accusing them of misappropriating over 20 billion won (US$ 17.4 million) of church funds for speculative stock market investment.

Santa Rosa church embezzlement totals $712,000 in California


Sonoma County prosecutors on Wednesday filed a 14-count criminal complaint against a Guerneville woman suspected of embezzling more than $712,000 from a Santa Rosa church over a period of seven years.

An arrest warrant was issued for Eleanor Zapanta, 51, who worked as the business manager for the Center for Spiritual Living of Santa Rosa, who was named after a months-long investigation.
Zapanta is believed to have stolen the money from 2004 to 2010 through more than 250 unauthorized check transactions, Chief Deputy District Attorney Bill Brockley said.
She is charged with seven felony counts of grand theft by an employee, seven counts of forging business documents and a white-collar crime enhancement for fraud in excess of $500,000, Brockley said.
She faces up to 12 years in state prison if convicted, he said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Zapanta had not been arrested and prosecutors said they did not know her whereabouts.
Prosecutors would not provide details about how the theft went undetected or how it was discovered.
“The facts we're alleging speak for themselves,” Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook said.
Norma Miller, a 20-year church member and senior spirit organizer, said the money loss came to light when two board members became suspicious. But more details weren't available.
Senior minister Ed Vijoen has not return calls over several days seeking comment. He announced the loss to parishioners after Sunday services over the past two weeks.
Rumors had been swirling for days among congregants that Zapanta may have fled law enforcement. She was charged with two felonies for each year of the alleged theft. The total loss was $712,948, Brockley said.
Investigators from the Santa Rosa Police Department began looking into the case this spring, Cook said.

The 1,000-member center is located on Occidental Road. It is affiliated with the United Centers for Spiritual Living based in Golden, Colo.
According to the center website, members honor and respect “the interconnectedness of all life.” The center features an animal ministry and drum circles, among other activities.
In an interview last year, Viljoen said the center finances its $1.2 million annual budget with donations. Book sales and fees from classes generate additional revenue.
The alleged embezzlement is just the latest in a string of similar thefts this year on the North Coast.
It is the biggest so far, eclipsing the $400,000 police said was stolen from the Kids Street Learning Center in Santa Rosa by a former business manager. In that case, Sheila Accornero, 42, of Cloverdale is suspected of taking the money over 2 1/2 years.
She pleaded not guilty in August.

Former Oakland church treasurer ordered to repay almost $400,000 in California


A former treasurer of an Oakland church who stole more than $400,000 from parish coffers was sentenced to a year of electronic monitoring Friday and ordered to repay most of the money taken from the St. Vartan Armenian Apostolic Church.

In a plea deal with the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, which appeared to frustrate several church members, Gary Alexanian, 47, was found guilty of grand theft instead of the more serious embezzlement crime he was originally charged with.
In addition, Alexanian agreed to repay the money he stole, submit to a year of electronic monitoring and serve five years probation.
Parish members declined to comment after the sentencing Friday but in a letter to the probation department, the parish council said Alexanian deserved prison time for stealing.
"A crime of this size cannot be rewarded with simply a probationary scolding," the letter stated. "The criminal activity perpetrated by Mr. Alexanian has shaken the Church to its core, profoundly impacting the parish community."
Alexanian, who was baptized at the church, had stolen the money during his more than decade long tenure as the parish's treasurer. The money was gathered, church members have said, through bake sales and other yearly fundraising events.
In the letter to the probation department, the parish council said they erred in putting full trust in Alexanian who they said began stealing within the first 45 days he was appointed treasurer.
Michael Cardoza, Alexanian's defense attorney, said his client is sorry for his actions and began to steal because of financial pressures in his life.

In a letter to the court, Alexanian said he was ashamed and said his actions have led to a crumbling of his life, which includes a pending divorce demanded by his wife and ostracization from the Bay Area Armenian community.
"Because of my actions, my wife has moved for a legal separation, we are losing the house and I have personally lost some of my family members, and all of my friends," Alexanian wrote. "I acknowledge that it was selfish, stupid, and before long, things just got out of control."
Cardoza said his client hopes the church members will eventually be able to forgive him.
"What was most shocking to me is the first issue was repayment of money. Not one member of the church ever asked him how he was doing," Cardoza said. "We hope that the church, in their hearts, can forgive him."

Richmond woman accused of embezzling money from church credit union in Virginia


A Richmond woman has been charged with embezzling money from a church's credit union.

Police say 60-year-old Debra Morris, of the 4600 block of Mason Dale Way in Richmond faces two counts of embezzlement from the St. Paul’s Baptist Church Credit Union.
"We all feel that we know people, but we don't know people. It's just society."
By some accounts, Saint Paul Baptist church is known for it's family atmosphere with members helping other members.
But according to Henrico police,
60-year-old Debra Morris allegedly helped herself to something else.
She's accused of stealing more than 40-thousand dollars.
"I feel that you can't control people that doesn't have anything to do with the church at all. I feel like people are going to do what they're going to do," said Rhonda Lilly.
Church leaders say between June of 2008 and April of last year, they discovered suspicious financial activity while staff were conducting an audit.
That audit prompted an investigation revealing Morris allegedly stole the money from the Saint Paul's credit union.
A credit union in which she was the President and CEO.
"I've been a member for many years and I don't want it to reflect on our Pastor Lance Watson because he's done so much for us in the community," said Joe Wortham.

Joe Wortham tells us he knows Morris personally. And doesn't believe this is something she would ever do.
"She's always greeting everyone and constantly interacting with the members. It's really a big shock."
We tried to reach Morris at her Chesterfield home to get her side of the story.
But no one answered the door.
"There is no reason to steal in my books. But, i'm just hoping she would apologize and repent, said Wortham.
Debra Morris is out on bond. She goes back to Henrico's Circuit court on October 4 at 9am.

Fenton Police Investigating Possible Embezzlement from Church

From -

Police are investigating a possible embezzlement from a Fenton area church.

Police received a call from church officials reporting $10,000 in missing gift cards. The gift cards were part of a program where the church gave cards to those having financial difficulties.
Fenton Police Chief Rick Aro said police are planning to interview employees and will be forwarding information to the prosecutor’s office.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Former Bells PTO president admits embezzlement in Texas

From :

A local school board official is under fire after being accused of taking money from a school organization.

The Bells ISD superintendent announced that Jeannie Russell, who is the current president of the district's board of trustees, admitted to using money from the Parent Teacher Organization fund for her own personal use.
Karen Bounds has been part of Bells Parent Teacher Organization for nearly two years. Less than a week ago she was appointed president after the past president, who is also the current president of Bells ISD Board of Trustees, admitted to taking $2,000 from the organization.
"I was sad because a lot of parents worked very hard," said Bounds.
The news is still hard for Bounds to accept, especially since she along with several other parents worked around the clock, on their own time, to raise much-needed funds for children at the elementary school and other students in the district.
"We had a lot of cuts in the budget this last year, money is tight and short and so we need to have all these fundraisers to let the money go back in the Bells school district," said Bounds.
Bells ISD superintendent Joe Moore says the incident happened over the summer and that Russell has paid all the money back. But he says it's important for the community to know that PTO and the district are two separate entities since PTO operates under its own by-laws.
"That's two separate things and the PTO has nothing to do with Bells ISD and Ms. Russell's responsibility with it," said Moore.
Russell has since left PTO and resigned as secretary of the Athletic Booster Club. She has also submitted a letter of resignation from her position as President of the district's board of trustees.
Moore says despite the situation, Russell has been an asset to not only the school board but the community. Bounds says the PTO is now moving forward closing the old account, adding new board members and planning for the financial future of Bells ISD.
"Jeannie's done a lot of good for this school for Bells elementary and the high school, but we need to have checks and balances and that's what we're doing now is having those checks and balances in place," said Bounds.
District officials say the police have been contacted and they will continue the investigation. As of right now no criminal charges have been filed. Meanwhile the board of trustees will consider Russell's resignation at an upcoming meeting.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

No contest plea in Cumberland computer theft case in Rhode Island


No contest plea in computer theft case

The former information technology director for the Cumberland School Department pleaded no contest Friday to embezzlement and conspiracy charges involving the theft of school computers that were sold to unsuspecting colleagues.
Robert Legacy, 54, of 63 Lincoln Park Ave., Cranston, who was suspended when the thefts were discovered in 2009, entered the plea before Superior Court Magistrate William McAtee. Legacy’s son, Kevin, 22, of the same address, pleaded no contest to charges of conspiracy and felony larceny.
McAtee handed down five-year suspended sentences. He also ordered that the father and son pay restitution to the individuals who unknowingly purchased the computers.
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin said the stolen computers will be returned to the school district. He said in a news release that the plea was agreed to after consultation with the School Department.
Kilmartin declared that the prosecution had been prepared to prove that over the course of several months in 2009, Robert Legacy knowingly stole 30 new computers, and gave them to his son, an information technology employee at Cumberland High School.
The computers were later sold to a number of individuals, including a custodian, secretaries, an accountant, an elementary school principal, the high school athletics director, a high school student and the School Department’s financial manager

Principal to return to job at charter school in Richmond, Virginia


The embattled principal of the state's first charter elementary school is heading back to work Monday, even though a Virginia State Police investigation into alleged embezzlement at the school is ongoing.

Pamela L. Boyd is being returned to her job as principal at the Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts after more than three months of paid administrative leave, said Kristen Larson, vice president of the Patrick Henry board.
Larson said the decision was made in conjunction with Richmond Public Schools administrators and was done "in the best interest of the students."
Larson would not elaborate on what that meant, and she declined to say whether the Patrick Henry board wanted Boyd back.
Richmond Public Schools spokeswoman Felicia Cosby confirmed that Boyd would return to Patrick Henry on Monday. Cosby said Boyd's administrative leave would end that day.
When asked in the past about the chance of Boyd being assigned to a different school, Cosby had said that Boyd is assigned to Patrick Henry.
The school is semi-independent. Its board sets policy on the school's academic direction, but the principal and teachers are city school system employees. The Patrick Henry board can make recommendations about hiring and firing personnel — its members interviewed Boyd and recommended that she be hired in March 2010 — but decisions are made downtown.
Boyd was placed on leave in June on the eve of the school's first graduation ceremony after news spread that a city school system audit of Patrick Henry lunch money and student activity accounts found "lack of management oversight, inaccurate monthly financial reports, failure to follow established procedures, an ineffective filing system, and incomplete documentation of transactions."
The accounts were registered to the city school system but controlled by Boyd.
"These internal control weaknesses increased the risk for a loss or fraudulent transactions," Debora R. Johns, chief of internal audit services, wrote in a memorandum accompanying the 11-page report.
Johns did not find evidence of fraud.
Meanwhile, the state police have been investigating an allegation of embezzlement involving the school. That charge may not be related to the student accounts. As of Friday, that case was ongoing.
Larson said that the state police contacted Patrick Henry board members when the case was opened but that to her knowledge, none of the board members had been interviewed or were otherwise involved in the case.
In the months since Boyd was put on leave, the Patrick Henry board has instituted a number of changes to its accounting procedures — notably, instituting a policy prohibiting staff members from unfettered control of any accounts — and is in the process of implementing an electronic account-management system.
"That will greatly cut down on the cash and the checks," Larson said. "That should make our accounting less cumbersome."
Larson said parents were notified of Boyd's return during an open house Thursday night.
She said that interim Principal Loretha Taylor would stay on indefinitely to help Boyd ease back into her job.
"A lot has happened here since [June]," Larson said. In addition to the new financial controls and systems, she said, "we've added three classes, hired six teachers and added 60 students."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Former Discovery Counseling Center head pays restitution in embezzlement plea deal

The former head of the Discovery Counseling Center has repaid the nonprofit $100,000 as part of an embezzlement plea deal that could wipe the charges from his record.

Thomas Martin was in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Walnut Creek on Thursday to report that he has paid restitution to the Danville-based group, which provides counseling services to the San Ramon Valley school district and Contra Costa County as well as to private individuals. The felony embezzlement charge to which he pleaded no contest last month was thus reduced to a misdemeanor, said his attorney, Mike Markowitz.
Martin, 47, of Concord, must also do 200 hours of community service by next year; if he does so and does not violate his probation by then, the case can be dismissed.
Martin's court appearance Thursday was brief, and he didn't speak.
He was arrested after the charges were filed but has been free since posting bail shortly after that. Martin will not have to do any more jail time under the agreement, Markowitz said outside court.
Martin declined to comment, but he released a statement through his attorney.
"Mr. Martin has the utmost respect and admiration for the work that the Discovery Center does for youth and families that it serves," Markowitz said. "He regrets his actions and any harm caused to that community."
Martin had no prior criminal history, was cooperative with authorities and is a family man with wife and children, Markowitz said.

"Everyone recognizes this," Markowitz said. "Everyone recognizes that it was an unfortunate incident."
Deputy district attorney Steve Bolen said the deal allows Martin to find other work.
"He needs to be employed to pay the money back," said Bolen, adding that Martin was able to obtain the restitution money from family and friends.
Lawson Bill, Discovery's governing board treasurer, said the group was consulted on the plea agreement and feels the result is just.
"We got a lot of our money back," Bill said. He said the group has moved on with a new leader and better financial controls. He said the center's services and number of customers have not been affected.
In March, prosecutors filed against Martin four felony counts of grand theft embezzlement by a clerk, agent or servant. The charges carried an enhancement for a loss exceeding $65,000. Prosecutors accused him of spending more than $162,000 of the center's money from July 2007 to September 2010. Most of these were credit card purchases, but $21,000 was taken in cash withdrawals.
He used a company credit/debit card linked to the center's checking account for his own day-to-day expenses, as well as luxury items, prosecutors said. The charges, some as high as $1,000, included personal Pacific Gas & Electric and water bills, services for his home pool, state Department of Motor Vehicles payments, new tires for his vehicle, airline tickets for his family and accommodations in Yosemite and at Mt. Bachelor, Ore.
This past fall, the center board hired an accounting company to do an audit in response to concerns of misconduct, and Martin was fired in October.

Cleveland pastor pleads guilty to not paying over $90,000 in income taxes

The pastor of a Cleveland church who was federally charged with not paying more than $90,000 in income taxes has pleaded guilty.
Charles Matthews of Solon entered the during plea during a hearing Friday morning in Cleveland. He was the senior pastor of Mount Sinai Baptist Church and Ministries in Cleveland.
He was facing six counts in the information that was filed earlier this week -- and pleaded guilty to all of those counts. He could face 18 to 24 months in prison when he's sentenced.
Matthews was in charge of two financial accounts at the church – one for the church itself and one for his own use, dubbed a pastor’s account.
The information alleged that while Mt. Sinai deducted and collected the required income tax and FICA withholdings from the total taxable wages of its employees, Matthews “willfully failed to report and pay over to the Internal Revenue Service those withheld taxes.”
Prosecutors alleged Matthews instead “caused those funds to be used for other purposed including transfers into the pastor’s account for his own personal use.”
According to the information, Matthews also failed to report and pay the employer’s share of FICA taxes.
The total amount prosecutors said Matthews failed to pay between October 2005 and January 2007 was $90,767.43.
According to the church's website, Dr. C. Jay Matthews was named pastor of the church in January 1988.

Detroit school computers, cash stolen; 2 ex-DPS employees, 8 others charged


Two former Detroit Public Schools employees and eight others have been charged with felonies in connection with the theft of school laptops, computer equipment and cafeteria money, as well as breaking into schools, officials announced Thursday.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, along with leaders from DPS, announced the charges in 10 school-related criminal cases.
The total losses in equipment and damages to buildings amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, Worthy said."When people commit crime and violate the trust of the school system, they are taking from our children," Worthy said. "We will not allow criminals to take away the future of DPS students."
The cases are the result of a collaborative effort between DPS emergency manager Roy Roberts, the DPS Office of the Inspector General and the Wayne County Prosecutor's Public Integrity Unit.
Thieves who "think that we're not paying attention and we don't care -- they're wrong," Roberts said.
DPS has made more than 40 criminal referrals to the Public Integrity Unit since the collaboration between DPS and the Prosecutor's Office began in 2009.
Those charged Thursday include former DPS employees Toni Ausberry, 29, and Charmain Porter, 55, both of Detroit, who were charged with larceny and embezzlement for allegedly stealing cafeteria cash.
They were fired in connection with the allegations, DPS Inspector General Van Marsh said.
Detroiters Dwight Brown, 31, and Lester Sanford, 63, were charged with receiving and concealing stolen property in connection with stolen laptops.
In other cases involving stolen laptops, Detroiters Dorian Blair Jr., 19, Marque Mency, 23, Demarco Wilson, 18, Christian Williams, 19, and Thomas Fent-James Williams, 19, were charged with breaking and entering and receiving and concealing stolen property. Demonte Wilson, 19, was charged with receiving and concealing stolen property, entering without breaking with intent and larceny.
Police are looking for Brown, Demarco Wilson, Demonte Wilson, Christian Williams and Thomas Fent-James Williams. To report information on their whereabouts, call DPS police at 313-748-6000.
Additionally, former teacher Anthony Mosby, 47, of Oak Park was charged with failure of a school employee to report a conviction in connection with his 2009 drunken-driving third offense. He left the district before the charges were filed.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Former Putnam City Schools Employee Accused Of Embezzling $10,000 in Oklahoma

From : -

Oklahoma County prosecutors have charged a former secretary at Cooper Middle School with embezzlement after thousands of dollars went missing.

The superintendent of Putnam City Schools called campus police after learning of discrepancies in the financial records. A year-end analysis of Cooper Middle School's finances indicated nearly $10,000 went missing between July 2010 and June 2011. The missing money was supposed to be deposited in student activity funds.
Lisa Loraine Marin, 43, was the school's financial secretary at the time the money disappeared. It was her first year in the position, although she'd worked for the district a total of nine years. According to court documents, Marin admitted during an interview that she'd taken the money to pay personal bills.
Marin resigned August 23. Oklahoma City Police arrested her August 30. She was released on $4,000 bond. Oklahoma County prosecutors have charged her with embezzlement and second-degree forgery.

Former Acton Parent Teachers Group treasurer avoids jail time in embezzlement case; Shannon Winchell ordered to serve community, pay back stolen funds in New Hampshire -

The former treasurer of the Acton Parent Teachers Group will not serve time in jail for stealing $29,000 from the PTG over three years, but she has been ordered to do community service for the town and pay back the funds.

Shannon Winchell, 34, of Acton, was sentenced to two years in jail, all suspended, with an additional two years probation for embezzling $29,000 when she was treasurer of the parent-teacher group.
In a sentencing hearing in York County Superior Court Wednesday morning, Justice Paul A. Fritzsche also ordered that Winchell serve 250 hours of community service — in Acton, if possible — over the next 22 months and send a written apology, through the District Attorney's office, to members of the PTG. She must also pay back the money she stole from the organization.
Winchell was indicted by a York County grand jury in April for theft, "by obtaining or exercising unauthorized control over $27,000, more or less, property of Acton Schools Parent Teacher Group . . ." The actual amount was closer to $29,000, according to testimony at Wednesday's hearing.
The theft was discovered by members of the Acton PTG in August 2010 when they began to receive past-due notices for bills that had not been paid. They also found that the PTG's bank statements did not correspond to the treasurer's reports, and that the group's account balances were considerably lower than they should have been.
On the advice of an investigator in the York County Sheriff's Office, PTG officers questioned Winchell about the missing funds. She was removed from office and the sheriff's office launched an investigation.
Winchell pleaded guilty to Class B felony theft during an Aug. 25 court hearing.
At Wednesday's sentencing, Winchell's defense attorney, Joseph Mekonis, told Justice Fritzsche that his client had already repaid more than half of the amount owed to the PTG.
After a brief exchange between Mekonis and Assistant District Attorney Kent Avery, it was determined that Winchell has so far reimbursed $20,281.94 to the PTG.
"She is one of the most motivated clients I have ever had," Mekonis said, adding that Winchell had already taken "a number of measures" to try to right the wrong she had done when she called and asked him to represent her.
Winchell told the court that she works 30 hours a week as a cleaner in a hospital to pay the money back.
Speaking at the hearing for members of the Acton PTG, Vice President Susan Ottey asked Justice Fritzsche to "show no leniency in sentencing." Reading from a prepared statement, Ottey said Winchell had deprived the school and its students of opportunities to attend camp and benefit from new equipment, and the PTG had to postpone the purchase of a fire engine for the playground.
Ottey said the theft had also cost the PTG "the confidence, trust, and respect of all those who had generously donated in the past."
Fritzsche agreed that embezzlement make things very difficult for an organization.
"Normally, I would say there has to be some amount of jail time," he told Winchell. "What's different here is that you have worked very hard" to pay back the organization, he said. "That's really quite remarkable."
The community service aspect of Winchell's sentence may be more difficult to fulfill.
She said she had spoken to the Acton Elementary School principal and received permission to serve as a volunteer in the school, but that the new superintendent had declined the offer. Winchell said she had also asked to be allowed to volunteer at the town office and a church, but had still been unable to find a place to volunteer.
Fritzsche suggested that the sentence be amended to "community service in Acton, if possible," but Avery objected saying, "It is very important [to the victims, members of the PTG] that she serve her community service conspicuously in Acton."
Fritzsche concurred, but left the door open in the event that she is unable to obtain a volunteer opportunity in the town.

Theft of $9,000 suspected at PTA


Police are looking into a report that someone embezzled as much as $9,000 from the West Cary Middle School PTA.

The possible embezzlement was initially reported to a school resource officer at West Cary, who then passed the information on to Cary police.
"They believe that it's from someone within the PTA," Capt. Mike Williams said.
Cary police are continuing to look into the possible theft, with the cooperation of the PTA, but no arrests have been made.
In 2008, the most recent year for which tax records are available, the PTA provided $74,130 in support to the school.

Youth football treasurer admits stealing thousands from program in Illinois


When Theresa A. Carlquist faced financial trouble, she tapped funds from the Downers Grove youth football association she served as volunteer treasurer.

"When times got desperate, I stole from the league," she wrote in an email in late 2009, when evidence of her embezzling from the Panther Junior Football and Cheerleading program came to light. In another email, she said: "I have screwed up in a major way."
Thursday, she pleaded guilty to felony theft and was sentenced to six months of periodic imprisonment in the DuPage County Jail.
As part of the plea, Carlquist, 52, of Downers Grove, turned over a check for $88,000 as restitution for pocketing cash from the program's coffers and using its checking account and debit cards for personal use, Assistant State's Attorney Helen Kapas said.

Carlquist used the money to pay a $1,000 natural gas bill, put on a birthday party for one of her children and try to prop up a failing business, authorities said.
"We were close to failure because of what happened to us," Panther President Steve Lowery said.
The organization was once $35,000 in debt, he said, but vendors and other supporters helped it through its cash crunch.
"I'm just glad it's resolved," Carlquist said as she left the court.
She stood accused of embezzling more than $100,000. Even though the organization is not getting back all the money, Lowery said he was pleased with the deal.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stealing, Embezzlement Charges Brought Against Former Rockwood Science Head in Missouri


Michael Szydlowski, who previously led the Rockwood School District science department, was charged with allegedly stealing district-owned items and embezzling a significant sum of cash before he left the district's employment last June.

A former Rockwood School District leader, Michael Szydlowski, was set for a jury trial Monday morning in the St. Louis County Circuit Court in Clayton, due to charges of allegedly stealing district property prior to leaving Rockwood to assume a new job in Columbia Public Schools in Columbia, MO.

The situation started last summer after Szydlowski's last day of employment with Rockwood, June 30. Questionable charges and declines on the district's purchasing card for the science department caught the attention of Rockwood's Director of Finance K. Scott Tate. He and Kelvin McMillan, assistant superintendent of human resources, contacted police for assistance with what they stated they believed to be "illegal use" concerning the card.
Eureka Police Department reports indicate a $2,500 charge was attemped on Szydlowski's last day of Rockwood employment to, but was declined. A similar $2,000 attempted charge to Target also was declined that day. Lesser attempted charges, such as for a satellite radio subscription, also were cited. The charges were declined due to invalid security code entries after the card was returned to the district.
Eureka-Wildwood Patch attended what was supposed to be the trial starting at 9:30 a.m. Monday, however neither set of attorneys were present when Judge Lawrence Permuyter Jr. concluded his docket and adjourned at approximately 11:15 a.m. Permuyter told Patch he assumed the case would be continued, or that the parties must have reached some sort of settlement.
Eureka city attorney Kathy Butler is prosecuting the case. Attorney William Goldstein of Clayton is representing Szydlowski. Calls to both attorneys Monday to inquire about the case's official status were not yet returned at the time of publishing.
The Columbia Public Schools online staff directory indicate Szydlowski is presently a K-12 science coordinator for the district.

Szydlowski's Rockwood Background:

Szydlowski joined Rockwood a few years ago to overhaul the district's elementary science curriculum.
One of his most notable changes and contributions to the district was the Rockwood mobile science lab, which at the time reportedly was the only one in Missouri owned by a school district. Click here for a video about the lab. It enabled Rockwood's 9,700 students in kindergarten through fifth grade at the district's 19 elementary schools to visit it four times a year.
The mobile lab, which enamored many parents and teachers, was billed as a way to save the district money. It moved students from textbooks into its 11 hands-on workstations.
At the time, district spokespeople said its science textbooks were replaced every six years, costing $610,000 to buy new ones. Overall, the district saved $381,000 by overhauling its curriculum through the mobile lab, as reported in allBusiness.
However, this school year, the mobile lab is not in use, due to the district's budget challenges. Rockwood board of education directors told Patch that not all of the year-to-year maintenance costs for the mobile lab program were revealed at the time Szydlowski presented a case to invest in it.
Students and parents also may remember that Szydlowski was responsible for transferring the school building-centric approach to elementary science fairs to a St. Louis regional program. The switch decreased the number of individual students doing science fair projects, but promoted group-based projects at an annual, districtwide science night.

The Charges:

According to paperwork filed against Szydlowski Dec. 20, 2010, through the St. Louis County Municipal Division, Eureka's prosecutor Butler identified the following complaint charges, citing he "appropriated the property of the Rockwood School District without the consent or knowledge of the district by charging" the following:
•$13.65 on the district's credit card on March 11, 2010, to mail documents for seeking employment outside the district
•$176.95 on the same credit card for cordless drills and Quickfire Kits, and then allegedy taking them and all the following items after he left Rockwood's employment June 30
•$162.34 for a Panasonic portable DVD player
•$110 for a GPS device
•$199.99 for a version of Adobe Photoshop
•$454.14 for a GPS device used on a trip that occurred June 9-17, 2010

Missing District Science Inventory:

According to Eureka police reports, questions regarding the credit card purchases led to an online investigation of the UMB Bank database. Tate closed the actual card account, which was shared by four other district employees besides Szydlowski. Based on receipts and the district's financial accounting process, there were no other discrepancies with the other four card users, stated the police report.
However, the card process led to inventorying Rockwood's science items—leaving approximately $35,000 worth of items missing from the district's possession, indicated the police report.
Twenty days after leaving Rockwood, the police report indicated Szydlowski emailed district representatives on July 20, writing that he had found "several items that belonged to the district." The district's response was that the items had to be returned to the district by July 23.
The police report stated that Szydlowski visited Rockwood headquarters on July 21 to return "approximately $1,000 of property" and met with former Rockwood Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Carrie Luttrell, who informed him of the "misuse of district funds and purchasing card."
According to the report, he was given an opportunity to respond in a five-hour meeting, at which time he admitted to taking a list of specified district items, some of which were used at his home when he lived within the Rockwood School District. He also admitted to subscribing to certain memberships and extending two teacher trips, which cost the district additional funds.
Luttrell since left Rockwood this summer to join the Parkway School District as principal of Shenandoah Elementary in Chesterfield.

The report said Szydlowski indicated at the meeting he would like to make restitution to the district and "hoped the district would not choose to prosecute him."

Rockwood board of education directors then were contacted after the meeting, according to the police report, and informed of "statutes of the fraud." They then filed a complaint with Eureka police.

Legal Developments:

According to St. Louis County court documents, a certification hearing for this matter was scheduled for March 4, 2011. The hearing was continued and rescheduled for May 12, at which time a jury trial was scheduled for July 11. Then the case was continued until this Monday.

Preliminary hearing set for former Oklahoma State U employee


An Oct. 17 preliminary hearing has been set for a former Oklahoma State University employee charged with embezzling more than $80,000 from the school. She is accused of spending it on sex toys and other personal items.
Cynthia Shirleen Low, 45, was in Payne County District Court on Monday. She pleaded not guilty to felony embezzlement charges on March 10, a day after she was arrested.
Prosecutors allege that from July 2008 to February 2010, Low purchased sex toys, clothes, electronics, jewelry and other personal items “that would not be used by the OSU Chemistry Department,” court records show.
Low, a resident of Yale, resigned from her position in OSU's Chemistry Department in February 2010.
Documents show that a fellow OSU employee approached authorities in March 2010, telling a university police officer that she believed Low was using her school-issued credit card to make personal purchases.
The informant also revealed several altered invoices to police, which allegedly showed that Low had doctored receipts to make improper purchases look legitimate.
An affidavit available online also indicates that investigators found evidence of invoice tampering on Low's work computer.
Federal court records show that Low and her husband, Tommy Alan Low, filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2008, claiming more than $150,000 in debt. About a month later, authorities say the embezzlement in OSU's Chemistry Department began in earnest.
Low, who faces up to 10 years in state prison and a hefty fine if convicted, is free on $25,000 bail.

Monday, September 12, 2011

North Carolina School Employee Fired Amid Embezzlement Charges


Greene County Schools fired a woman officials said has been stealing on the job.

Angela Potter has been charged with embezzling more than $2,500 in cash and checks from the school system. Greene County School Superintendent Patrick Miller said Potter began working with the school system in May 2001 as a benefits specialist.
The incident report for the stolen funds was reported on June 1, and Potter was suspended immediately suspended. She was terminated on June 30.
Miller said no further comment from Greene County will be given because the matter relates to protected personnel issues.

Brazil Evangelical leader charged with fraud


Federal prosecutors are charging the founder of one of Brazil's biggest evangelical churches and three other church leaders with alleged crimes including fraud, money laundering, racketeering and embezzlement.

Those named in the investigation are the founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Bishop Edir Macedo, former congressman Joao Batista Silva, Bishop Paulo Roberto Conceicao, and the organization's financial director, Alba da Costa.
The prosecutors accuse them of sending about $236 million in church money illegally from Brazil to the United States between 1999 and 2005.
The prosecutors filed the charges Monday.
The church's communications office told the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper that Macedo's lawyers hadn't yet reviewed the charges.

Louisiana School boards association chief fired


Louisiana School Boards Association Executive Director Nolton Senegal has been fired amid an investigation of embezzled funds by an LSBA employee.

Senegal reportedly was aware on the ongoing misuse of funds and did not report it to the association.
An official statement from LSBA President Darrin Manuel says “At the meeting of its Board of Directors of September 9, 2011, the Louisiana School Boards Association took action to remove Nolton J. Senegal, Sr., from his position as executive director.
“Such action followed an investigation into allegations of misappropriation of funds by a member of the LSBA staff. Mr. Senegal has served as Executive Director since July 2007. He is a former member of the Acadia Parish School Board who has served as the president of LSBA for two terms.”
Manuel said that the association’s attorney has advised against making comments.
“This has been something of an on-going matter,” Manuel said. “Once is was brought to our attention, we acted on it as quickly as possible.”
Currently, the investigation is “in the hands of an assistant attorney general and a forensic auditor,” said Don Whittinghill, spokesman for the LSBA. He said three accounts are being audited.
Lloyd Dressel, director of business and Finance for the organization, was named interim executive director.

DA: Insufficient evidence against McKinney in California


The district attorney’s office will not be filing charges against Hesperia Unified School District Superintendent Mark McKinney.

McKinney was notified of the decision in a letter from Deputy District Attorney R. Lewis Cope on Aug. 24.
“In response to a complaint to the Public Integrity Unit of the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office, our office undertook an investigation of allegations that you interfered with the Hesperia Unified School District Police’s investigation into an allegation of embezzlement by a HUSD employee,” Cope’s letter reads in part.
“I first officially knew (of the investigation) when I got the letter,” McKinney said Thursday. “Although the allegation was stated, way back at Sultana High School, that they were going to make a formal claim, but this was the first verification that they actually did make a formal complaint.”
The dispute between the district and its police officers first went public in March, when Police Chief Mike Graham and Officer (and city councilman) Bill Holland accused McKinney of preventing them from investigating Sultana High School student government accounting regularities as a criminal investigation back in 2009.
A May 31 private investigator’s report commissioned by the district supported their assertion that McKinney had told Graham and other officers to stop pursuing a criminal investigation.
“Penal Code 830.32 specifies that officers employed as members of a school district police department are peace officers with authority to investigate all crimes within their jurisdiction. To interfere with the execution of those duties could be a crime,” Cope’s letter continues. “Our investigation into this matter included a review of detailed information submitted with the complaint and a legal analysis of the evidence. It is our office’s conclusion that criminal charges are not supported by the existing evidence. Hence, we are closing our files on this matter.”
“This is the verification of a truth that I already knew,” McKinney said. “If there was any doubt, this should remove it.”
On Aug. 2, Graham was placed on paid administrative leave, days before the start of the 2011-12 school year.
“I’m working daily with the police department and Sgt. (Cindy) McCarter is next in command. We talk daily,” McKinney said. He said the months-long struggle between the department and superintendent “has been unfortunate and has taken us off our goal, and I’m trying to get us refocused.”

Saturday, September 10, 2011

$4,000 Missing From Wes Leonard Foundation T-Shirt Sales in Michigan


The Allegan County Sheriff's Department is investigating $4,000 that is missing from the Wes Leonard Foundation.

The nonprofit organization purchases automatic external defibrillators for schools in honor of Wes Leonard, the Fennville star basketball player who died of a heart ailment shortly after hitting a game-winning basket in March.
Lt. Frank Baker of the Allegan County Sheriff's Department told FOX 17 NEWS that $4,000 in profits is missing from the sale of Wes Leonard T-shirts at the Tastee Treat in Fennville, which is owned by Christine Thompson-Vanderbok. The money was supposed to go to Leonard's family.

In another case, Baker said that Thompson-Vanderbok surrendered Thursday on embezzlement charges of misappropriating from $200 to $1,000 from Project Graduation 2011.
Baker said the Sheriff's Department intends to submit the investigation concerning the missing Wes Leonard Foundation funds to the Allegan County Prosecutor's Office sometime next week.

Fennville business owner accused of embezzling from graduation fund in Michigan

A Fennville ice cream shop owner has been charged with embezzling from Project Graduation, a fund for seniors at Fennville High School to use in graduation celebrations.

Christine Thompson-VanDerbok was arraigned Thursday in Allegan 57th District Court and charged with a misdemeanor count of embezzling more than $200, but less than $1,000. The charge is punishable by up to one year in jail.
Court records show the money was taken sometime between January and May of this year.
Thompson-VanDerbok, owner of the Tastee Treat ice cream shop on East Main Street, and her attorney, Paul Klein, did not return calls Friday.
Allegan County Sheriff’s Lt. Frank Baker said authorities were made aware of the embezzlement sometime after high school graduation took place this spring.
Baker said VanDerbok was part of the Project Graduation committee and another member alerted police to concerns of missing money. As part of the committee, VanDerbok had access to money that was collected, Baker said.
Project Graduation is traditionally organized by parents who commit to raise money so their graduating students can celebrate after finishing high school, Fennville Superintendent Dirk Weeldreyer said. It is independent of the school’s budget, he said.
Baker declined comment on how or whether any of the missing money was spent.
“Anytime someone does take from not just the school, but from Project Graduation, which is intended not just for a celebration but for graduation, it’s truly a tragedy,” he said.
Thompson-VanDerbok is free on bond. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 3 in Allegan District Court.

School secretary charged with embezzlement in West Virginia


A secretary at Blennerhassett Middle School has been charged with embezzling from the school more than $13,000 over a four-year period.

Melissa G. Lott, 45, of Parkersburg was arrested by West Virginia State Police last month and charged with theft "in excess of $13,000 belonging to Blennerhassett Middle School," according to the criminal complaint in Wood County Magistrate Court.
The complaint alleges Lott admitted to embezzling the money during a recorded interview with law enforcement where she was advised of her Miranda rights.
According to the complaint, Lott obtained checks from the school and cashed them at various location throughout Parkersburg and Wood County.
"Lott admitted she took money and cashed checks," the complaint states.
The complaint alleges Lott told investigators she committed the crime from July 2007 until May 2011. She has worked for the county school system since November 2001.
Bob Harris, assistant superintendent of personnel, said school officials discovered missing funds during an annual audit.
"The matter was turned over to the prosecuting attorney's office," he said.
Pat Law, superintendent of Wood County Schools, was out of town Friday and unavailable for comment.
Last month Lott was arraigned in magistrate court where her bond was set at $5,000. She requested a public defender and has been assigned John Oshoway as counsel.
Lott waived a Aug. 10 preliminary hearing, and the case is awaiting presentation to a grand jury. If convicted, Lott faces 1-10 years in prison.
Next week, the Wood County Board of Education will act to continue Lott's suspension without pay for another 30 days. Lott was placed on 30-day suspension by the board on June 29.
In July, the board refused to approve a resignation request by Lott. Harris confirmed Lott's suspension was the result of the embezzlement investigation.

Woman accused of embezzling from school system in North Carolina


One woman is accused of embezzling more than $20,000 in Union County.

Twelve years ago, Susan Parker worked for a few months as a bookkeeper for a Union County school.
Then, she returned to work at Union County Schools central office four years ago.
Last year, members of a Marshville church told investigators that Parker stole $17,000 in checks. When school officials found out, they questioned Parker, who was the secretary to the director of elementary education.
Detectives said they even checked her purchase orders.
“There were no red flags raised as far as the fact that they thought they were missing money,” said Detective Andy Mullis with the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
The school system still fired Parker after she was charged with embezzlement at the church. Then, two months ago, officials noticed some unusual credit card purchases.
"Small purchases -- stuff that wouldn't really be noticed,” Mullis said. “Stuff that wouldn't stand out all of a sudden.”
Some bills were as small as $20. They were all for groceries, starting months after Parker began work at the central office four years ago. The credit card charges totaled more than $6,000.
Parker was arrested Thursday.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Former Head of State College Medical Billing Firm Sentenced

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania today announced that

Ronald A. McFarland, age 53, of State College, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to a 37-month term of imprisonment and two years of supervised release. Judge Kane further ordered that McFarland pay $2,463,922 in restitution.

According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, on February 24, 2011, an information was filed charging McFarland with theft and embezzlement of $2.46 million in health insurance reimbursements belonging to two cancer treatment centers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Liverpool, Ohio.

McFarland was the president of Verimed Services, Inc. and Medical Alliance Partners, LLC, both based in State College. Through those companies, he provided third-party billing services to Rosewood Cancer Care, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Oaktree Cancer Care, Inc., East Liverpool, Ohio, which both provided outpatient radiation treatment programs for cancer patients.

Verimed billed health insurance plans and programs for medical treatment provided to patients of Rosewood and Oaktree, and then it received, recorded, and forwarded checks payable to Rosewood and Oaktree from the insurance plans and programs.

McFarland diverted and embezzled insurance payments for Oaktree and Rosewood, totaling $2.46 million, and transferred the stolen funds to business and personal accounts controlled by him. McFarland also concealed the theft by making false entries in daily collections logs and patient ledgers.

McFarland pled guilty on March 17, 2011 to theft and embezzlement in connection to health care.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ex-church secretary gets 44-month prison term for embezzlement in Tennessee


A 70-year-old woman who bilked $1.5 million from the Morristown church where she worked for nearly five decades received both punishment and absolution on Thursday.

Senior U.S. District Judge Leon Jordan sentenced Barbara D. Whitt to 44 months in prison for a years-long scheme to defraud First Baptist Church of Morristown, where she worked as financial secretary.

But the church offered Whitt forgiveness.

"Barbara, First Baptist Church loves you, and we have no anger or bitterness toward you," Senior Pastor Dean Haun told Whitt at Thursday's sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. "Barbara, may the Lord bless you."

Whitt served for 47 years as the financial secretary for First Baptist Church, which has a congregation of about 2,500. She and her son, Michael Dean Whitt, 44, were indicted in November 2010. Records show Barbara Whitt robbed church coffers for three years by lying to church officials to get their signatures on 1,650 checks on which she later added her own name as payee.

Michael Whitt deposited money embezzled from the church into prepaid cards and took other steps to avoid currency transaction reports. He faces sentencing later this year.

Defense attorney Tommy Hindman argued that Barbara Whitt was herself a victim of her son and only child.

"Ms. Whitt had been told by her son that he needed money to pay off the Internal Revenue Service as well as other outstanding checks he alleged were from his legitimate business," Hindman wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "Mr. Whitt convinced his mother that unless she came up with money, he would go to jail and she would never see him again."

Instead, Hindman said, Michael Whitt used the purloined cash to buy cars, a boat and drugs.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Smith countered that Barbara Whitt "kept the books" for her son's business and "would have had full knowledge of her son's business" affairs.

The courtroom was packed with members of not only First Baptist Church but Grace Baptist Church, where Whitt was a member for nearly six decades.

"I am so sorry, and I just ask their forgiveness," Whitt told Jordan before turning toward church members. "Please, forgive me."Jordan declined to sentence Whitt to the minimum 41-month prison term but still cut her a slight break from the maximum.

"You're fortunate to have that much support, that much love and that much forgiveness," he said. "You have betrayed all of them We must send a message to the public."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Police investigate possible theft at St. Matthew's in Oak Creek, Wisconsin


Authorities are investigating a possible theft of funds from St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Oak Creek.

Church treasurer Mike Kuick confirmed Friday that the probe is ongoing and that a staff person has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome. He said the church's finance committee noticed accounting irregularities about two months ago and turned the information over to the Oak Creek Police Department. A police spokesman said it is working with the Milwaukee County district attorney's office on the investigation.
Police and church officials declined to comment Friday on the amount.

PTO leader accused of embezzlement in North Carolina


The man who called for “one voice” in Wilson County’s school system is accused of having had one hand in the PTO funds at Jones Elementary School.

The Rev. Robert Nicholas Andrews Jr., of 3701 Ashbrook Drive, was arrested and charged with 247 counts of embezzling money from the Jones Elementary PTO fund. As of Friday evening he was still being held in the Wilson County Jail under a $190,000 secured bond.
Sgt. Wanda Samuel, spokeswoman for the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, said Andrews became the PTO president in June of 2010.
“He was solely responsible for collecting and depositing fundraiser money for the PTO for Jones Elementary,” Samuel said.
Officials said the investigation began when the principal of Jones Elementary, Eddie Hicks, notified the Wilson County Board of Education about the school receiving past due notices of bills that should have already been paid.
“Jones Elementary School Principal Eddie Hicks reported his concerns about the financial activities of his PTO to the Central Office in June after vendors started asking him questions about delinquent bills,” said Amber Whitley, public relations director for Wilson County Schools. “In early July, Central Office asked the PTO for the financial records. Upon inspection, it was noted by Central Office that serious internal control issues existed within the PTO’s records along with questionable documentation. After a comprehensive review, the records were turned over to the sheriff’s department for investigation.”
“The investigation led to the Rev. Andrews being charged with 247 counts of embezzlement where over $30,000 was taken from the school’s PTO account,” said Samuel.
When the school system was facing huge financial cuts for the current school year, Andrews initiated efforts to encourage people living in Wilson to take an active approach in addressing the budget cuts.
In an earlier interview with The Times, Andrews said education affects everybody in Wilson County and when people think about moving “they first look at the health of a school system in that area. So the status of our schools directly affect whether people move here ...”
Andrews facilitated several town hall meetings and discussions around Wilson addressing concerns parents had when the system was facing a huge budget shortfall.
Now, the Jones Elementary PTO is facing its own shortfall.
“The Parent Teacher Organizations are independent, self-charged organizations that operate outside of school system regulation,” said Whitley. “By Board of Education policy, school system and individual school accounts are audited by an independent third party annually. PTO accounts are not school system accounts.”
Whitley said the funds raised by a PTO organization are kept in a separate bank account and never in the school system’s account.
“A PTO’s financial records are not subject to a mandatory audit by the school or the district but may be surrendered voluntarily for inspection. Purchases and expenditures as well as cash trails related to fundraisers are not subject to a mandatory audit by the school system,” Whitley said.
“Fundamental financial practices” would require PTOs to schedule their own audits, Whitley said.
A principal cannot be a financial officer in the school’s PTO organization. They can be aware of practices of their PTO such as when, where and by whom deposits are made.
As a result of this arrest, principals have been asked to meet with all of the clubs and organizations within their school.
“Principals have been advised to meet with the clubs and organizations within their schools, such as booster clubs and PTOs, and become more involved as far as the finances are concerned,” said Assistant Superintendent Tommy Finch.
“I am sure that the parents and teachers are disappointed with these incidents,” said Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard. “This money should have been used for our kids and for appreciation to the school’s staff — not for Mr. Andrews’ personal gain.”
This is the second incident of funds being embezzled from school-related organizations this calendar year.
In March, Wanda Michelle Batts, 49, was arrested and charged with 37 counts of embezzling funds from the Beddingfield Athletic Boosters. She allegedly took more than $8,600 over a six-month period. Her case is still pending in the court system.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Riceville, Iowa School District Requests Credit Card After Embezzlement Charges


One local school district is looking to get a credit card for business purchases. With some recent reports of an employee in the Lake Mills district embezzling funds, those in Riceville are hoping the card will keep staff honest.District leaders are discussing the plan with the school board. It would make it easier for them to purchase products online and keep their tax free status.

Riceville Superintendent, Andy Pattee, says it's also a way to keep good records of what's being purchased.

“Credit cards with the monthly billing cycle and statements you receive, it actually could be a greater value to track expenses and allow you to do that a little more efficiently.”

Recently the business manager at lake mills schools was accused of embezzling school funds.

Riceville's superintendent tells us that's not the main reason why they want the card.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Accused school administrator resigns in Louisiana


Charles Moore, a St. Landry Parish School Board administrator accused of embezzlement, resigned Tuesday afternoon during a scheduled hearing to discuss his employment.
When the tenure hearing began, Moore asked that the meeting be held in public and visiting attorney Robert Hammonds went through the procedure. There would be two charges brought against Moore in an attempt to remove him as a principal and tenured teacher, Hammonds said.

Opening arguments, witness testimony and closing arguments would be heard. Then the board would deliberate in private before making a decision. It was not clear if that was in compliance with the Louisiana Open Meetings Law.

Moore told the group that he had attended the hearing alone, and board attorney Gerald Caswell took Moore aside. Caswell asked for a 10-minute recess, and when the meeting began again, Moore offered his resignation.

Caswell simply told Moore that he could resign, Caswell said, but Moore said there was a little more to the conversation.

"He came out and he said that if I resigned that all the charges would go away and I'll be able to find another job," Moore said. "He meant that the charges with the School Board would go away. The problem with the criminal charges is that is the kind of thing that stops me from having representation from the principal organization."

Moore, 59, was arrested on May 27, 2010 for theft greater than $500 and malfeasance in office while principal of Grand Prairie Elementary School during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years. Moore was accused of writing himself checks from the school's fund and using the cash to pay his cell phone bill, buy an iPhone and eye glasses.

That case still is tied up in court, with a hearing scheduled for November.

Moore's monthly income was $5,000, according to court documents, which the School Board continued to pay when Moore was placed on leave with pay directly after his arrest.

The school board accepted Moore resignation by a vote of 9 to 2, with board members Quincy Richard and John Miller voting against.

Moore's resignation was effective immediately, meaning he will keep the 15 months of pay he received while on administrative leave.

Moore left before board members voted, but told the group that he was "in over his head" with the hearing.

He said he was not sure with what the board was charging him and why it differed from his criminal charges.

"You can't run your school system with different rules for black administrators and white administrators," Moore, who is black, said during his resignation. "I'm going to resign and I think it's in my best interest to do so."

After the meeting, Hammonds would not disclose Moore's charges, calling them "confidential."

"Had they gone forward with the hearing, then they would have been discussed in public," Hammonds said.

Principal on carpet for credit card use


The principal at a prominent Near Northwest Side high school is under fire for allegedly racking up nearly $17,000 in charges on overseas travel to France, Great Britain, South Korea and other exotic locations on his Chicago Public Schools-issued credit card.

CPS officials say Ogden International School Principal Kenneth Staral spent lavishly in 2009 and 2010 on trips to Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Central America to support an international studies program he created at the school in the West Town neighborhood.

CPS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus on Wednesday said the school district has tightened rules regarding credit card use in the wake of several high-profile scandals. Chicago Board of Education members are no longer authorized to make credit card purchases. Sainvilus also said CPS now conducts daily audits of credit card transactions, closely scrutinizing purchases of more than $250 and those made for school purposes.

"In these tight financial times, you have to be mindful of the fiscal situations we're living in," Sainvilus said. "You have to spend wisely. Not lavishly."

Staral's purchases were made before CPS updated its credit card policy, Sainvilus said, but the district has forwarded the case to the CPS inspector general. Staral, who remains principal at Ogden, could not be reached for comment.

"The IGs office is reviewing the credit card expenditures to determine what, if any, rule violations occurred and who should be held responsible," Sainvilus said.

Staral's spending, according to Sainvilus, included hundreds of dollars at restaurants in London, the Serbian capital of Belgrade and Lyon, France; and at luxury hotels in Prague and Serbia. He also spent on trips in the U.S., including stops in New York, Los Angeles and Washington.

The spending is reminiscent of sprees by former CPS Board Presidents Michael Scott and Rufus Williams during that same time period. District records showed Scott and Williams spent freely with their CPS credits cards on travel, artwork, dining and personal gifts to a variety of charities.

The school district's inspector general later determined that a number of those purchases violated CPS' ethics policy, which prohibits employees from using their positions to derive financial gain.