Thursday, October 11, 2012

Woman, 57, arrested in Grayling, Michigan area embezzlement case involving high school, youth baseball

Authorities say a 57-year-old woman has been arrested in an embezzlement and forgery case involving a northern Lower Peninsula youth baseball league and a high school.The Crawford County sheriff's department says Sandy Enos of Grayling was arrested Tuesday on embezzlement and forgery charges following a months-long investigation. Bond was set at more than $50,000.
The District Court in Grayling says there was no lawyer on record Wednesday morning for Enos. A telephone listing for her wasn't accepting calls Wednesday morning.
The sheriff's department says Enos served as treasurer of the Grayling Little League and was involved in financial accounts at Grayling High School.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ex-Royal Oak High School Principal's Pre-Trial Hearing Postponed in Michigan

A pre-trial hearing scheduled for former Royal Oak High School Principal Michael Greening on two felony embezzlement charges scheduled for today has been postponed until next week at the request of the defense counsel.
The postponement was requested because of a scheduling conflict. The new court date has not yet been determined.
In September, Judge Shalina Kumar rescheduled the pre-trial in Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac to give defense attorney Paul Stablein time to review transcripts of the 44th District Court preliminary hearing.
“It’s common practice to ask for more time," said Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Novy.
Transcripts include two days of testimony, including Royal Oak Police Department Det. Keith Spencer summarizing his examination of Greening’s bank records and credit card statements, noting it appeared Greening had money troubles.
If convicted on two felony embezzlement charges, Greening faces up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000 or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater, for each charge. The former principal was released on $50,000 personal recognizance with conditions, including that he not leave the state.

Woman seeks reduced bond in Johnson City, Tennessee church theft case

A Bristol woman serving an eight-year prison sentence on a conviction of stealing more than $400,000 from a business where she worked in Shelby County asked a judge Monday to reduce her bond on a similar charge in Washington County.
Jessica Tramel, 34, is charged with theft over $60,000 for allegedly taking over $200,000 from Unaka Avenue Baptist Church, where she worked as a secretary. The job included handling financial transactions.
Tramel is accused of using a church credit card illegally between Jan. 1, 2009, and May 1, 2011. She came to possess the card after the former church treasurer, Russell Stover, gave it to her. She was supposed to have his name removed from the account and destroy the card.
Instead, according to court documents, Tramel is accused of using the card to make numerous purchases over the Internet from companies such as Amazon, Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy.
The card was also used locally to purchase manicures and spa services.
Currently Tramel is serving a sentence from the Shelby County conviction in the Johnson City Jail. On Monday, she told a judge that it will expire Oct. 18, which would allow her to post bond on the charge she faces here. According to court records, Tramel’s bond is $150,000.
The hearing Monday was to ask Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood to reduce that amount to $25,000. Tramel testified she hopes to get out of jail while her case is pending to spend time with her husband and children.
Tramel’s attorney, Brad Sproles, based his argument for her release on her family ties to the community — her parents, husband and children live in Bristol — and an odd circumstance in her prior case that he says shows she can be trusted.
In that case, Tramel was denied probation and ordered to serve the sentence at a February 2004 hearing in Shelby County. Tramel was hired as an office worker for a jewelry store, but quickly became a trusted employee and began handling the owners’ personal and business finances.
That led to Tramel — then known as Jessica Trotter-Lawson — to begin stealing money from the store. Over a two-year period, Tramel took nearly $500,000 from the business, according to court records.
After being ordered to serve the full sentence, Tramel appealed and the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the sentence and ruled Tramel should serve one year in prison and the rest of the sentence on probation.
That decision came one year after Tramel’s sentence began, so she was released.
But 16 months later, the state Supreme Court reversed the CCA’s decision and ordered Tramel back to prison. She had 11 days to report to jail in Memphis.
Part of Sproles’ argument for his client’s trustworthiness is that fact that she did report back to jail as ordered. Another thing in her favor, Sproles told the judge, is her ability to work with minimal supervision in the community.
The Johnson City Jail is a “work camp” for state female inmates and everyone housed there has a job on city property. Tramel testified she works at the city golf course doing lawn maintenance and trash pick-up.
It’s allowed her to halve her sentence. The inmates earn an extra day for each day they work.
When Tramel was arrested for the theft from the church here, she was on parole from the previous conviction. Officials revoked her parole because of the new charge.
Both Sproles and Assistant District Attorney General Ken Baldwin indicated the case will likely be resolved with a plea.
Instead of ruling on the bond reduction Monday, Blackwood reset the case for Oct. 11. He said if the case isn’t resolved by a plea by then, he would consider the motion to reduce bond.
Baldwin opposed any reduction in Tramel’s bond.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Nevada Principal Replaced Due to Michigan Embezzlement Charges

A temporary replacement has been named for a Sparks elementary school principal who was placed on administrative leave after officials learned he's on parole for embezzling in Michigan.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that Rick Harris will replace Andrew Stansberry at Moss Elementary School beginning Monday.
The action was required after Washoe County School District officials recently learned that Stansberry had been sentenced for embezzling $26,796 from a school fund while a principal for Michigan's Benton Harbor School District.
Washoe district officials said there was no update on the investigation of Stansberry or what might happen at the Sparks school if he is terminated.
Harris is a 25-year veteran of the Washoe school district.

Woman, 77, pleads guilty in Warren, Michigan church embezzlement case

A 77-year-old woman faces the possibility of prison time for taking money from a Warren church and must repay $50,000 in an agreement with prosecutors. The Macomb Daily reports Helen Gvozdich pleaded guilty to embezzlement Tuesday, the day her case was to go to trial in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens. Sentencing is Nov. 8. She has no prior criminal record and guidelines call for anywhere from probation to up to two years behind bars. A message seeking comment was left by The Associated Press on Wednesday for defense lawyer E. Philip Adamaszek. Authorities originally said that in 2008 and 2009 Gvozdich stole about $79,000 from St. Stevan Decanski Serbian Orthodox Church in Warren. Prosecutors say church officials agreed to accept $50,000 repayment if she pleaded guilty.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ex-church secretary in Mississippi sentenced for embezzlement

A former church secretary has pleaded guilty to stealing money from the congregation.
Assistant District Attorney Dennis Bisnette tells The Chronicle that Avis Weems allegedly stole more than $80,000 from collections at the East Jerusalem Full Gospel Church in Laurel between August of 2004 and December of 2008.

Bisnette says Weems had worked at the church for four years.

Weems was arrested in 2009. She pleaded guilty this past week in Jones County Circuit Court.

Bisnette says Weems was sentenced to 10 years in prison with 36 months to serve under house arrest. He says the remaining seven years would be suspended if she completes five years of post-release supervised probation and community service.

She was also ordered to pay restitution.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigating thousands missing from church accounts

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the possible embezzlement of more than $128,000 from a Baptist church in Lincoln County, law enforcement officials said Friday.

Double Branches Baptist Church in Lincolnton reported the missing money to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 30, according to an incident report.
The discovery resulted from an internal investigation by church officials into failures to pay a bank note on a church-owned vehicle, the report stated. Officials told police that money was found to be missing from the church’s cemetery fund, its Georgia Baptist Convention fund and other accounts.
They also reported that “a great deal of money” had been used for personal gain and that unauthorized credit cards had been acquired in the church’s name.
A church financial officer has resigned a position he held for 16 years, the report said.
No arrests had been made as of Friday, officials said.
GBI special agent in charge Mike Ayers said the sheriff’s office had turned over the case to his agency. Ayers said he had been waiting on the results of a forensic audit of bank accounts to be completed before proceeding with the investigation. He said that audit was delivered to him Friday.
“We are trying to digest all of this information before moving forward,” he said.
Lincoln County Sheriff Gerald Lawson said that he couldn’t discuss case details but that news of the investigation had begun to ripple through the community.
“This is a big deal here,” Lawson said. “A lot of people are going to be hurt.”

Wisconsin woman admits to skimming from public schools

A former accounts payable clerk is accused of stealing more than $200,000 from the La Crescent-Hokah public schools to fuel a gambling habit.
Mary Chris Turner of Onalaska admitted to taking money for up to a decade, telling police she spent it on pull tabs, bingo and at casinos, according to a criminal complaint.
Turner, 59, was charged Thursday in Houston County District Court with felony theft, swindle, embezzlement of public funds and credit card fraud.She did not respond to a message left at her home Friday.According to the complaint, district officials discovered missing checks during an annual audit. They then realized someone had used the district Visa card to make cash withdrawals and doctored the credit card statement in a cover-up.Officials suspected Turner, who was responsible for keeping track of credit card use. According to the complaint, they said she was protective of the cards and worried about other employees using them for large purchases.
Police reviewed Kwik Trip security video that showed Turner using a cash machine on three occasions in September when cash advances were made. District officials provided credit card bills since January 2008 detailing $202,618 in losses, according to the complaint. Their investigation showed Turner also wrote unauthorized checks to herself while indicating the money was paid to vendors. Police found $5,000 worth of cash withdrawals at La Crescent Kwik Trips over a three month period this summer. Police questioned Turner on Wednesday, and she admitted taking money for five to 10 years, acknowledging the total amount could be more than $100,000. Turner said she gambled at the casino in Black River Falls, played pull tabs at the American Legion and played bingo at Crucifixion School in La Crescent. According to the complaint, Turner also admitted to skimming about $10,000 over the past six years from gate proceeds for sectional playoff games.
Superintendent Ron Wilke said the school district is cooperating with law enforcement and is pursuing an internal investigation. He said the district is insured against such thefts.
The district also released a written statement reading in part, “Our students and families are the district’s top priority, and we will continue the good work that happens inside of our school buildings each and every day.” The statement cited Minnesota’s Data Practices Act as preventing it from sharing more information. Wilke said Turner no longer works for the school district but would not say whether she had been fired. Turner is free on a $10,000 conditional bond and scheduled to return to court Oct. 15.