Wednesday, July 31, 2013

School Worker Charged With Embezzling Gets Pension in Massachusetts

A judge has ruled that despite a criminal charge of embezzling money, a former school union employee will receive her full pension.

On Wednesday morning, the Berkshire County Retirement Board reinstated Donna M. Burdick to the retirement system. Her membership had been revoked by the board in December because of embezzlement charges.

Burdick and colleague Carol Fryc were both charged with stealing funds from the Northern Berkshire School Union, which covers the Clarksburg, Florida and Savoy school districts, and fired in August 2011. State police said the two women, who worked in the office, had used the union's credit cards at Walmart and Staples to make fraudulent purchases, pocketing about $30,000.

The board was forced to reinstate Burdick after losing a court case on the matter in Northern Berkshire District Court. On June 21, Judge Laurie MacLeod ruled that Burdick was entitled to her retirement benefits.

"We tried to revoke her membership and she challenged it in court. And we didn't win," said Berkshire County Retirement Board Executive Director Sheila LaBarbera on Wednesday.

Burdick, 58, had reached a plea bargain in July 2012 and the charges were reduced to a continuance without a finding. She was required to pay back $11,272 to the school district. After one year and paying that money back, the charges were dismissed. Fryc made a similar plea bargain.

MacLeod wrote that because the finding was not a conviction and the charges are now dropped, Burdick has the right to keep her the pension.

The retirement board, however, is unhappy with the finding. The board believes that since her plea was an admission to "sufficient facts for a finding of guilt," it has the right to revoke the pension. According to state law, a person convicted of misappropriation of government funds can have their pension taken away.

"It doesn't matter what they do, they still get a pension," Peter Menard, board member, lamented before reinstating Burdick. Board member Deborah Cotter said the decision is "just awful."

While Burdick was fired from the school union, she retained her job with the town of Florida. Burdick can now make the contributions she would have made during the last year and then retire with her full pension. - See more at:

Harpswell, Maine woman charged with embezzling nearly $300,000 in Lewiston, California from youth football league

 A woman who police say embezzled at least $80,000 from the Ramada Inn in Lewiston — and who is suspected of embezzling nearly $200,000 from a youth football league and another business in California — was arrested Tuesday afternoon at her Harpswell home.

Carrie Richardson, 37, of Harpswell remained in Cumberland County Jail on Wednesday morning, held on $100,000 bail.

She is charged with Class B felony theft for embezzling $80,000 while working as a bookkeeper at the Ramada Inn between January 2012 and January 2013, when she was fired, Lewiston police Lt. Michael McGonagle said Wednesday.

McGonagle said the theft was discovered during an annual audit and Richardson “was the only one who had control of the money.”

Richardson is also wanted on warrants from Escondido and San Diego County in California after allegedly embezzling in that state, McGonagle said.

UT San Diego reported in March 2012 that Richardson — also known as Carrie Marie Miranda — was suspected of embezzling as much as $100,000 from Escondido Pop Warner Football, for which she served as treasurer for three years, and approximately $45,000 from the North County Yamaha shop in San Marcos, Calif., where Richardson formerly worked.

Detective Jeff Miller of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, who investigated the North County Yamaha crime, said Wednesday that Richardson was wanted there on charges of embezzlement and grand theft. But he said the district attorney told him that the county would not extradite Richardson to face charges there due to budget reasons.

Julie Hurkman, co-owner of the store, told the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday that Richardson actually stole at least $75,000 from her, but that at $45,000, “we just stopped counting.”

Hurkman said Richardson worked for her for eight years before the day she overheard Hurkman talking to her credit card company about the missing funds. When Hurkman went downstairs to talk to another manager, she said, Richardson disappeared.

Richardson left the home she was renting from Hurkman within a couple of days, Hurkman said.

“She left all her stuff there,” Hurkman said of Richardson. “I never saw her again.”

Sgt. David Cramer of the Escondido Police Department, which investigated the Escondido Pop Warner Football theft, declined Wednesday to discuss that department’s case against Richardson.

Detectives from Sagadahoc County and Brunswick arrested Richardson about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at her Harpswell apartment. Detectives first checked at the address the Lewiston Police Department had for Richardson, but found that another family lived there. They then checked the address on her Maine driver’s license and found the home vacant. Finally, they found Richardson at a Harpswell apartment she had moved into two weeks ago, detectives said.

McGonagle said Wednesday that Richardson likely would be transferred to the Androscoggin County Jail to await a court appearance on the charges.

Hurkman, of North County Yamaha in California, said her employees were going to throw a pizza party Wednesday to celebrate Richardson’s arrest.

“I can’t tell you how good this makes me feel,” she said. “We’ve just been sitting here waiting for something to happen.”

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pastor Joshua Swain Arrested For Stealing Over $100k From Church Members Plus Fraud in Illinois

There is backlash in a local community after a senior pastor is accused of stealing from his own church members. Thirty-two-year-old Joshua Swain is facing charges after police said he stole more than one hundred thousand dollars from his church in Carbondale, Illinois.

Prosecutors also said Swain stole the money from The View church, formerly First Baptist Church, and also used the name of a congregation member to take more than $10,000 from a bank. On July 26th, Swain was arrested and charged with theft and aggravated identity theft.

Although his Twitter name says he is still the senior pastor at The View, Local 6 has learned he is no longer with the church.

Polly Daggett described Swain's arrest as an awful shock. "I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him... Nothing can take away what he's done, nothing. I hope they make him pay restitution," said Daggett.

Daggett said she worries about the future of the The View. "If he's got sticky fingers, he'll do it again and a church is a pretty vulnerable thing," said Daggett.

She said she is left with more questions than answers. "I'd do everything I could to get him convicted so he wouldn't do it again at least for awhile. There's got to be some kind of restitution, what did he do with the hundred thousand dollars," said Daggett.

Denny Gholson does not go to The View church, but said he believes in a more biblical punishment. Gholson said, "An eye for an eye you know. You can forgive him I guess, but that's what you're supposed to do, forgive."

Faith seems to comes first at The View. For now, church members are not letting the pastor's alleged actions overrule religion. The View has removed former Senior Pastor Joshua Swain from it's website. Swain is scheduled to make his initial appearance in Jackson County Court this Tuesday afternoon.

2 granted pretrial diversion in embezzlement case in Mississippi

Two Olive Branch Middle School staff members accused of embezzling more than $10,000 from school accounts have been granted pretrial diversion.

The Commercial Appeal reports ( ) the school's former assistant principal, Audrey Brooke Phillips, and the former bookkeeper, Kelli McGowen, applied for diversion and were accepted into the program last month.

The requirements of the program for nonviolent, first-time offenders call for the defendants to pay a $1,000 fine, $421.50 in court costs and $100 to the Mississippi crime victim compensation fund.

If they successfully complete the yearlong diversion program, they will not have convictions on their records or face punishment through the court system.

A third suspect in the case, former Olive Branch Middle School principal Mike McCoy, is slated to go trial on Aug. 19.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Woman Robbed While Making Church Offering Deposit in Maryland


Hyattsville, Maryland - Counting church offerings and making the deposit happens for many churches on Monday morning or afternoon. Large sums of money are often collected, and church volunteers take the money to the bank to make the deposit. On Monday, a lady making a $6000 deposit at her church's bank was robbed by two men who approached her outside the bank, pushed her from behind, grabbing the money and running away.

Another man was waiting in a car nearby.  The robbery suspect ran to the car and they sped away.  The suspect's image was captured by the ATM video camera, and police have issued an attempt to locate bulletin to the community.
Thankfully, this kind lady was not harmed or injured, but she was definitely shaken up. 
While it isn't known whether the suspects cased the church or whether she was just a random victim they saw as they drove by, spending a few minutes on offering security might be a good idea.
What is your church money policy?  Some churches have very limited security protocols where the money is handled by just one or two people.  A recent church embezzlement case involving a pastor and church secretary, who stole $220,000 from their congregation shows us that offerings can easily be pilfered if no accountability exists.
Many churches have security protocols regarding the counting of the money by using several volunteers in the counting process. After the offering collection, the money is taken to a safe and locked in by at least two people.  Within the church, I think it is perfectly fine to use volunteers.  However, transport to the bank should be handled by someone who is security conscious and alert to the possibility he or she has the potential to be robbed.
After the service, or on the next day, the money is counted in a room with at least 3 people and the room has controlled access.  Shielding activity within the room is accomplished by using a placard over any windows and the door is locked.  Nobody is able to enter or leave once the counting process is started.
Once the totals are tallied, the money is placed in a zippable/lockable bank deposit bag, it is transported to the bank by two people.  If armed security is available at your church, an armed church member may accompany a team member to make the deposit.  If not possible, consider having the bank deposit picked up by an armed security courier like Brinks, who will come to your church and pick the deposit up.
Hiring a courier removes the possibility of one of your members becoming a victim of a violent robbery. 
Here, situational awareness is required making sure to pay attention to whether your car is being followed, and if there is anyone hanging around the exterior of the bank watching for movement.
While many banks offer outside overnight deposit boxes.  When possible, you should go inside the bank and make the deposit there.  This leaves the depositor less likely to be seen by those driving by and also increases the chances of more witnesses seeing the activity and being tempted to commit a robbery.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Two charged in LSU Eunice embezzlement

Two of the former LSU Eunice employees implicated in federal fund theft were formally charged in federal court Wednesday.

Marvette Thomas, former Office of Academic Assistance director, and Carra Sergent, former OAA assistant director, were each charged with one count of theft of federal funds. Internal and legislative audits late last year and early this year revealed nearly $160,000 in federal student assistance money had been improperly used for personal purchases.

Thomas is accused of illegally spending $68,464 and Sergent is said to have spent $74,653. Two other employees implicated in both audits were not charged.

Allegedly purchased items detailed in the legislative audit include iPads, exercise equipment, video game consoles and Grambling State University apparel. According to court documents, Thomas and Sergent are accused of making the purchases between September 2008 and February 2012. Each had resigned from LSUE before the internal audit was released.

Prosecutors want the two to forfeit their alleged purchases so the money can be returned to LSUE, which has independently paid back the federal money and seeks reimbursement.

The case is in federal court because LSUE receives at least $10,000 in federal funds annually.

A hearing date was not set as of press time.

Former Corning, New York pastor faces theft charge

A former pastor of a Corning church was charged with a felony after an audit revealed more than $18,000 may have been misappropriated.

New York State Police in Bath charged the Rev. Christopher W. Mathewson, 35, of Sharon, Pa., with fourth-degree grand larceny, a Class E felony, on Tuesday.

Mathewson was pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Corning from 2007 to 2011, police said.

After he left the church, an audit revealed that as much as $18,640 may have been misappropriated, police said.

A criminal complaint on file against Mathewson in Bath Village Court accuses him of stealing the money by using the pastor’s discretionary fund and the deacon’s emergency fund. It also accuses him of using an American Express credit card and another credit card.

Senior Investigator Curt Eaton began the investigation in December, while he was assigned to state police barracks in Painted Post. In the complaint, Eaton said Mathewson used the money for personal use from about 2009 to 2011.

Mathewson was arraigned Tuesday in Bath Village Court and released on his own recognizance.

The case has been sent to the Steuben County District Attorney’s office for consideration by a county grand jury, Eaton said.

A woman who identified herself only as the clerk of the session at the church declined to comment Thursday, referring questions to police. The session is a governing body of the church.

Police investigate alleged Penn State fraternity embezzlement

A Penn State fraternity has discovered $90,000 is missing from its bank accounts while almost $38,000 in bills have not been paid, police records show.
The investigation has been going on for several months, the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., reported Wednesday. The Theta Delta Chi fraternity turned over financial records to police in January after members reviewing bank statements for late 2012 noticed a low balance and found thousands of dollars had been withdrawn from accounts.
In an application for a search warrant to give them access to the fraternity's records at Citizens Bank, police said $57,000 was withdrawn from accounts under suspicious circumstances between August 2011 and December 2012. Fraternity members found more than $30,000 drained from accounts by unauthorized use of debit cards.
The financial review found $38,000 owed to the local Fraternity Purchasing Association had not been paid.
No arrests have been made. The newspaper said police would not comment Wednesday on the investigation and officers of the fraternity could not be reached

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Schlieve on probation after embezzlement from church in Wisconsin


Judge Andrew Bissonnette paused the defense’s argument to hand out a sentencing “cheat sheet” to more than 30 victims and observers in the court room Wednesday before placing James E. Schlieve on five years of probation.
Schlieve pleaded no contest to one count of theft in a business setting of greater than $10,000. Nine additional counts of theft in a business setting of greater than $10,000, four counts of identity theft to obtain money and an uncharged sheriff’s department case were dismissed, but read in to the record and considered for restitution purposes.
Schlieve was charged with embezzling a total of $229,315.12 from the Zion Lutheran Church in Ashippun and the Ashippun Lions Club.
Schlieve must serve eight months of conditional jail time to commence on Sept. 10 with Huber privileges. An additional four months was imposed and stayed. Schlieve must also perform 150 hours of community service.
Larry Christopherson, the president of the Lion’s Club where Schlieve was treasurer for 10 years, spoke at the hearing.
He said that the Lions were unable to give the scholarships that they normally gave, donations to food pantries were greatly reduced and all of the members donated just to keep the group operating.
“He was trusted completely,” Christopherson said. “Jim violated that trust by stealing our money.”
Schlieve’s brother and brother-in-law also spoke at the hearing.
Jerry Schlieve told the court that his brother was very giving toward his community and asked for leniency.
“Our God is a fair and forgiving God. I would hope that the court and the community might be the same way,” Jerry Schlieve said.
Brother-in-law Larry Rode described Schlieve as the patriarch of the family and a man who volunteered “unselfishly.”
“I just wish he would have come to me earlier. Maybe we could have avoided this,” Rode said.
Prosecuting attorney Bob Barrington noted that Schlieve had paid the full restitution by liquidating his 401k before the hearing date. However, he argued for a year of incarceration and two years of extended supervision.
“This man stole from his church. This man stole from a prominent civic organization,” Barrington said. “He seems, in terms of his character, to have a total disregard for the less fortunate.”
“He chose to protect his own assets until he got caught,” he added.
Barrington quoted some of the victim impact letters, including several from members of one of the organizations.
“There are 135 families depending on the food pantry,” Barrington read. “We thought we were donating to the food pantry. Mr. Schlieve thought his needs came first.”
Defense attorney William Gergen disagreed, noting that Schlieve came into his office and asked not for a defense, but help in doing the right thing.
“From my perspective, his response and repentance is unparalleled in my experience,” Gergen said.
He noted that Schlieve has always been very involved in charity work and community service.
“I see it as a crime of fear and cowardice,” Gergen said. “The embezzler who has the ability to pay restitution doesn’t exist ordinarily. Mr. Schlieve is in an usual situation, that his retirement savings were there.”
He noted that Schlieve had lost his job of 30 years due to the case and was now faced with starting over again at age 62 with basically nothing. He asked for five years of probation with whatever conditions the court imposed.
“It’s a shame that so much good that he has done gets washed away,” Gergen said.
Schlieve spoke briefly, apologizing for his choices and stating that he would accept whatever the court decided.
“This is not enough to express my shame,” Schlieve said. “It will be hard for many people to forget, much less forgive me. I can only hope you can forgive me at some point.”
Bissonnette said that in a way, white collar crimes are often given less punishment than more violent crimes, because white collar criminals often have more good characteristics to offset the bad.
He noted that it was stated in some of the letters that the fabric of the small community had been torn because of the case.
“If there’s some sense that justice was done, then the healing process could start,” Bissonnette said. “Some of the letters said that.”
He noted that the full restitution payment wasn’t as important to him as Gergen made it out to be.
“Money that wasn’t ever yours has now been restored. That’s not really punishment,” Bissonnette said.
He did agree, however, that the previous good deeds were enough to warrant probation and a withheld sentence.
“With the withheld sentence, the judge is taking a wait-and-see attitude,” Bissonnette said. “The court just can’t justify [prison] today with the circumstances.”

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Few embezzlers from local PTAs and other charitable groups go to jail


When former Middleboro school PTA president Sharon Ellis pleaded guilty recently to stealing $18,167 from a PTA account, she was ordered to pay the money back and placed on probation.
She never served jail time.
Neither did two Brockton school organization leaders involved in similar embezzlement cases in the past several years.
In 2008, the Hancock School Parent Advisory Council determined $15,000 was missing from an account. The treasurer, Christine Peterson, resigned, paid the money back and did not spend a single day in jail.
In 2009, Sharon Nelligan pleaded guilty to stealing $50,979 from the Brockton High School Athletic Department, where she was the secretary. She paid the money back and was sentenced to five years probation, but no jail time.
Was this sufficient to punish the perpetrator and possibly deter others from committing these kind of thefts?
Local prosecutors say that if the defendant goes to jail, it’s much less likely the organization will get its money back.
“If the victim is looking to get paid back, and the defendant is incarcerated, they are not able to do that, and that’s a harm to victim,” said Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney Bridget Norton Middleton.
According to the American Bar Association’s website, sentences in embezzlement cases may depend on the value of the property that was stolen.
However, the group adds that most people convicted of embezzlement serve much less time than the maximum, perhaps even less than one year.
However, according to the Bar Association, embezzlers still may suffer severe consequences because their careers may have been destroyed.
“White-collar criminals never again regain the trust of employers, and that loss of professional and personal credibility will likely be the most damaging penalty,” according to the association. .
Mitch Librett, a Bridgewater State University criminal justice professor and a longtime police officer, said he doubts jail time would prevent similar crimes from happening.
“In my experience, I don’t think the prospect of getting caught and doing time is a deterrent,” Librett said.
Typically these crimes are not punished as street crimes, and since many perpetrators don’t have prior criminal records, the sentencing guidelines tend to be less harsh when offenders are caught.
But, he added, “There can be certain aspects of probation that can be way more punitive than jail.”
Ellis, the Middleboro PTA embezzler who was ordered to make restitution, was also sentenced to five years probation, ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation and provide a DNA sample and is not allowed to work for an organization that engages in fundraising.

“We recommended that she be found guilty of a felony, put on two years probation, pay full restitution, attend Debtors Anonymous and get any counseling deemed necessary,” said Middleton.
The judge in the Ellis case raised her sentence to five years probation.
“The recommendation that we made in this case (Ellis) was appropriate in this circumstance, and we think the victims are very pleased with her sentence,” said Middleton.
According to Coria Holland, communications director for the Massachusetts Probation Service, Ellis is under the lowest level of probation, which is administrative supervision.
Holland said administrative supervision is exercised in cases in which the primary purpose of the court’s order is the enforcement of the collection of money and/or any specific court orders.
Ellis’s probation has a scheduled completion date of June 26, 2018. She must also pay a monthly $50 probation fee and a onetime $90 victim-witness fee.

Ex-worker pleads guilty in Edmond church embezzlement case in Oklahoma

A former church business manager facing jail time for embezzlement justified his actions because he felt slighted over a smaller-than-expected bonus, a prosecutor told a judge Friday.

Bill Dwight Coyle admitted stealing more than $58,000 from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond.

Coyle, 62, of Edmond, pleaded guilty to eight counts of violating the state's computer crimes act because he used a computer to make the unauthorized purchases with a church-issued credit card.

He will be sentenced Monday by Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Watson.

Among the 880 items Coyle bought from the website Amazon with church money over a 12-year-period were a gun holster, a grenade pouch and a survival guide, records show.

Prosecutors said Coyle repaid the purchases periodically but stopped making payments when he received a $1,000 bonus from the church's former pastor for his work on a church lawsuit that was settled in 2010.

“He didn't feel like that was enough … that he was entitled to more,” Assistant District Attorney Angela Songgera told the judge. “He felt like he was owed that.”

Coyle was fired in 2012 after a co-worker told church officials Coyle owed the money.

A former church business manager facing jail time for embezzlement justified his actions because he felt slighted over a smaller-than-expected bonus, a prosecutor told a judge Friday.
Bill Dwight Coyle admitted stealing more than $58,000 from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond.
Coyle, 62, of Edmond, pleaded guilty to eight counts of violating the state's computer crimes act because he used a computer to make the unauthorized purchases with a church-issued credit card.
He will be sentenced Monday by Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Watson.
Among the 880 items Coyle bought from the website Amazon with church money over a 12-year-period were a gun holster, a grenade pouch and a survival guide, records show.
Prosecutors said Coyle repaid the purchases periodically but stopped making payments when he received a $1,000 bonus from the church's former pastor for his work on a church lawsuit that was settled in 2010.
"He didn't feel like that was enough ... that he was entitled to more," Assistant District Attorney Angela Songgera told the judge. "He felt like he was owed that."
Coyle was fired in 2012 after a co-worker told church officials Coyle owed the money.
The judge gave Coyle the weekend to decide whether to accept a 10-year deferred sentence, 90 days in the county jail and 500 hours of community service, or a five-year suspended sentence and 250 hours of community service.
A deferred sentence is not a conviction if the conditions of the sentence are met. A suspended sentence is a conviction.
Coyle has paid back $92,600 in restitution, including the cost of a church audit, his attorney said.
A friend of Coyle's paid the debt, the attorney said.
"Obviously, Mr. Coyle made some terrible errors in judgment over an extended period of time," defense attorney Tom Riesen told the judge. "This is a decent man with a decent inner core."
Coyle, who is not in custody, was accompanied to court by his wife. He apologized to church members for his behavior, which he acknowledged he received counseling for.
"I've let them down tremendously," he said. "I was completely wrong; this is nobody's responsibility but my own."

Authorities say a man who was supposed to help people who were in need was really helping himself to money that should have gone to a local church.
Bill Dwight Coyle, the former business manager of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond, pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $50,000 in church funds.
He will spend the next three months behind bars and perform hundreds of hours of community service.
In 2012, court documents say Coyle used a church issued credit card to make more than $58,000 worth of unauthorized purchases including a gun holster, grenade pouch and a survival guide.
After pleading guilty to eight counts of violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act, he accepted a 10 year deferred sentence.
Coyle will spend the next 90 days in county jail and fulfill 500 hours of community service.
“We really don’t have any comment, thank you,” said Coyle’s attorney.
Now, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is speaking out.
Representatives said throughout this case, the church has prayed for healing and forgiveness and are grateful this matter has been resolved.
Tina Dzurisin, with the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, said, “Archbishop has been throughout concerned for the parish of St. John the Baptist, concerned for Bill Coyle and his family, concerned for the priests who lead that parish.”
As part of the settlement, Coyle made a $92,600 payment in restitution including the cost of the original church audit.
Now, new systems have been put in place to make sure this fraud never happens again.
Dzurisin said, “At the parish level they really looked into their practices and ensured that they adopted some safeguards that will prevent this in the future.”
As Coyle carries out his sentence, officials said the church can begin to heal and look ahead.
Dzurisin said, “We hope that he’s able to move forward and to feel like this is behind us and that he is forgiven.”
A deferred sentence is not a conviction if the conditions of the sentence are met.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

2 get probation for church embezzlement in Michigan.Former Grand Rapids pastor, church secretary will repay $220,000 taken from church, judge vows


The former pastor and bookkeeper of a Grand Rapids church have been sentenced for embezzlement.

Both ex-pastor Arthur Pearson and ex-bookkeeper Gerolanita Bailey were sentenced to four months probation. Pearson was ordered to pay restitution to the tune of $160,000. Bailey was ordered to pay $50,700 in restitution.

In January, Pearson pleaded no contest to embezzling between $50,000 and $100,000 from Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church.

He turned himself in after allegations first surfaced in early January 2012. He initially claimed his contract did not specifically prevent him from using certain funds on personal items, such as car repairs and mall shopping trips.

Bailey pleaded no contest in February to a charge of embezzlement of between $50,000 and $100,000. She took nearly $60,000 from the church and used it for her own benefit -- mostly to pay bills.

The influx of former and current members of the church showing up for Thursday's sentencing hearing forced court staff to set up an auxiliary room with a remote video hook-up so they could watch the proceedings 10 floors below.

Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Leiber scolded the pair for using their positions of trust to take money from the people they were supposed to be serving in order to finance a lavish lifestyle.

He said he would not hesitate to put them in prison if they failed to live up to their repayment obligations - a sentence that has a maximum term of 15 years after each pleaded no contest to embezzlement charges earlier this year.

Related: Grand Rapids Baptist church pastor pleads no contest to embezzling up to $100,000

But second-generation church member Johnnell Williams said she doubts the church will ever see 10 percent of that money and wishes some amount of jail time, maybe six months, would have been required to give the pair time to think about what they had done.

“Her actions of theft stem from vanity and greed,” Williams said. “Ms. Bailey is a thief.”

Williams gave a victim impact statement to the judge prior to sentencing, during which she said the illegal actions prevented the congregation from carrying out its ministries and disgraced the church, which now can no longer get credit.

Pearson is accused of taking some $167,000 that he used to give himself raises and bonuses of as much as $20,000. He used the church credit card for personal expenses at several area retail stores and restaurants, including the Electric Cheetah, Macy's, Victoria's Secret and Hearthstone Bistro, according to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.

Bailey used more than $60,000 in church money to pay utility and cable bills for herself and family members and wrote checks intended for personal use.

Among the allegations laid out following an audit of church finances was that Bailey diverted $6,100 to Comcast, $7,300 to Sprint, $10,000 for a Capital One credit card and about $18,000 taken in written checks to "cash" or herself.

This embezzlement went on between 2008 and 2012.

The experience divided the Franklin Street SE church, causing membership to plummet and leaving the church without a full-time pastor for the last year and a half.

Williams said the situation has been hardest on the youth she works with and people like her mother who attended the Southeast Side church for decades before Pearson took over from their 40-year pastor in 2008.

Some church board members met with a civil attorney after the sentencing and both Bailey and Pearson refused to give statements in court today, due to the threat of lawsuits. In 2011, the church board did file suit in Kent County Circuit Court against Pearson.

Pearson’s attorney, Steve Fishman, said he hoped that as “Christian people” the dispute could be settled without “dragging everyone's dirty laundry through a public forum.”

Pearson also brought a $1,000 check with him to begin paying off the debt. Fishman did not say how Pearson is earning the money.

Bailey’s attorney, Jolene Weiner-Vatter, said her client has work in an Ohio ministry run by Bailey’s sister.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Delaware State University dean had criminal record

According to published reports Tuesday, a Delaware State University dean who resigned last week has a felony criminal record and convictions for forgery, embezzlement, and passport fraud.

The News Journal reported that the criminal background of Dr. Frederick “Freddie” Asinor — DSU’s former dean of the College of Education, Health and Public Policy — included forgery and embezzlement crimes committed while working at Clemson University.

As was the case last week after the Delaware State News reported Dr. Asinor had resigned, the school said Tuesday that president Dr. Harry L. Williams and Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Alton Thompson would not comment on the matter.

Court records showed that Freddie Asinor pleaded guilty to breach of trust, forgery, and embezzlement of public funds on March 21, 1991 in Pickens County (S.C.) 13th Judicial Circuit. The arrest date was listed in papers as July 12, 1990.

On Tuesday morning, a DSU spokesman said that Dr. Asinor’s resume presented to the school mentioned nothing about Clemson University.

Clemson University said Freddie Asinor was hired at the South Carolina college on June 1, 1989 and retired on July 20, 1990, according to state system records. The position listed for him at the time of retirement was “Director of Academic Special Projects,” school spokeswoman Robin Denny said.

Citing the matter as a personnel issue, Carlos Holmes said DSU would not comment on the circumstances of Dr. Asinor’s resignation, which came just less than a year into his tenure.

Attempts to reach Dr. Asinor for comment on Tuesday were unsuccessful; similar tries last week in the immediate aftermath of his July 10 resignation were also made.

Mr. Holmes said DSU conducts background checks on potential employee’s criminal, work and education histories. The criminal checks are contracted to an outside business, while education and work history checks are conducted by search committees and the Provost’s office.

“We wouldn’t knowingly hire a felon,” Mr. Holmes said.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jack A. Markell offered a statement when asked for a response regarding the news of Dr. Asinor’s departure. The governor appoints part of the DSU Board of Trustees for fixed terms, which assures the independence of the board, but has no involvement in personnel issues at the university, Catherine L. Rossi said.

“The governor has no direct involvement in personnel issues at the university but hopes that, if mistakes have been made, the organization and its leaders learn from them and work to prevent them in the future,” Ms. Rossi said.

In 2008, Freddie Adjei Asinor was sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court for making false statements on a United States Passport application. The plea was entered on Sept. 28, 2007, court records said.

In a press release issued in 2008, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire said Dr. Asinor was a citizen of Ghana when he falsely stated his date and place of birth on a passport application in February 2004; he also fraudulently claimed to be a United States citizen, authorities said.

The case was prosecuted as part of Operation Checkmate, which the U.S. AG’s Office said in a press release was designed to eliminate passport fraud, and “thereby reduce identity theft while securing the nation’s borders.”

Recent work history

Dr. Asinor began overseeing DSU’s nearly 1,300-student, 46-faculty and staff academic department on Aug. 13, 2012.

The college Dr. Asinor oversaw includes DSU’s Education, Nursing, Public and Allied Health and Social Work departments. The school said earlier that interim leadership would be appointed and the search for a full-time replacement was forthcoming.

Dr. Asinor came to DSU after serving as a part-time executive director of the Ocular Melanoma Foundation in Washington D.C., the school said in a press release announcing his arrival. His LinkedIn account indicated the stint ran from November 2011 to February 2012.

Prior to that he was executive vice president of the One World Foundation in Burtonsville, Md., and president and chief academic officer of MASA Healthcare in Owings Mills, Md., DSU’s release said.

On a LinkedIn account describing his role as an administrator, Dr. Asinor included:

“As the chief academic officer of the College, I play a critical role in the University’s strategic planning for the College of Education, Health and Public Service.

“I spearhead the transformative nature of this critical unit, build upon the University’s strong culture of interdisciplinary research and enhance the commitment to academic excellence.

“My ability to foster and communicate a clear vision and carry out the mission of the College in cooperation with the mission of the College in cooperation with members of the faculty is my highest priority.

“As the Dean … I also develop a focused and innovative academic plan for the College consistent with the University’s strategic vision and function in a team environment to effectively communicate with all constituencies of the University.”

Delaware State University officials say the school is reviewing its hiring practices and auditing financial records from the tenure of a former dean who has embezzlement and forgery convictions.

DSU made the announcement Thursday after it was revealed that Freddie Asinor, who resigned last week as dean of the College of Education, Health and Public Policy, had a previously undetected criminal record.

Court records show that Asinor pleaded guilty to forgery and embezzlement, stemming from crimes committed while he worked at Clemson University. In a separate case, Asinor pleaded guilty to making false statements on a passport application. Prosecutors said the Ghana native falsely claimed he was born in Connecticut to get a U.S. passport.

The university also announced that Marsha Horton will serve as interim dean.

Embezzlement and the family business


Hearing about embezzlement in a public company rarely shocks anyone, but when it happens in a family business, people are often stunned. “How could he steal from his own family?” “Doesn’t she know she’s hurting her siblings/cousins/parents?”

As tough and painful as embezzlement is, it’s not as uncommon as many of us would like to think. Sure, the kind of embezzlement that results in jail time is rare, but other levels of it happen daily.

How could this happen? Many factors lead to embezzlement, including chronic financial strain, a general sense of family entitlement, lack of internal company controls, and the reality or perception of being overworked and underpaid. To make matters worse, often the embezzler doesn’t even know that what he or she is doing is wrong.

Here’s an example of how embezzlement can start small and quickly grow: Jim (the business owner’s son) fills up his gas tank once on a Friday and pays for it with the business account, knowing that the miles he drives will be primarily for personal, not business use. He tells himself it’s okay because he has filled the tank on his own some weekends and used “his gas” for business use on Monday and Tuesday. Then he takes a few vacation days and doesn’t record it as paid time off. He picks up gift cards for employee recognition and pockets a few for himself. He knows that Dad pays him less than local competitors, and this is the way he evens it out. He notices other family members treating the business the same way, so it simply becomes the “way we do things around here”—it is their company culture, not embezzlement.

The misuse of company assets, time and money escalates. Soon, Jim adds a non-working family member to payroll, petty cash disappears, one out of ten customer checks are rerouted to Jim’s personal account, and personal items are consistently charged to the business credit card. Eventually, an employee in accounting notices and agonizes about who and when to tell.

So while embezzlement starts small and often innocently in a family business, it can quickly escalate to something big that damages the business, hurts non-family employee morale, and breaks family trust.

Take Action

What do you do when you realize a family member is embezzling from the business? Action is obviously required, and taking a cautious, thoughtful, respectful approach is wise. To begin, have a pre-meeting of key leaders, without the suspect family member present, to address the following questions:

1. Do we have clear, hard, verifiable facts before we assume fault and intent?

2. Who will be at the meeting to lay the facts out?

3. Are we going to involve the legal system?

4. If we continue employment with this family member, do we need to change their job position?

5. How or will we message this to the rest of the family? To other employees? To the Board of Directors?

6. How or did the company contribute to this problem?

7. If the company did, what steps will we take to prevent it in the future?

8. How or did the family contribute to this problem?

9. If the family did, what steps will we take, as a family, to prevent it in the future?

10. Has this family member had chronic, known problems with finances?

11. Generally, how can we protect the company from future misuse of company assets or embezzlement?

12. How do we protect the whistleblower?

13. Do we have a whistleblower program set-up internally? Are employees trained annually?

14. Do we talk openly in Family Council about our responsibility to financially protect and care for company assets? Do we give specific examples of what is and is not allowed?

15. Do we have a solid non-compete clause in our employment contracts and/or employee handbook in case we have to release the family member from employment?

16. Do we consistently run a professional background check on applicants?

17. If I need to walk the family member out the door, how do I prepare? Computer security, locks, passwords, current company asset retrieval, bank account access protection, social media tracking, last paycheck, etc.

18. Do we need to involve the corporate attorney, Board of Directors, outside legal attorney, CPA, business psychologist? If so, when and how?

Once you’re clear on these aspects, it’s time for the second meeting—this one with the suspect family member. When you begin the meeting, keep it at the level of discovery. Lay out the facts and ask the family member their perception of what happened. Really listen to what they say and how they say it. Remember, it’s common for family members not to realize that they are indeed embezzling. If this is a first offense, and if the embezzlement is not excessive, some education may be the best course of action. However, if you believe the family member knew what he or she was doing and did it anyway, or if the embezzlement is substantial, termination may be the only option.

During the meeting, you need to be vigilant in checking yourself by asking, “what would I do if this wasn’t a family member?” and “is this at a level where I will be able to trust them again?” Your answers to these two questions will reveal a lot about your best action plan.

Keep Your Family and Business Strong

Of course, education of all employees (family and non-family), strict policies about how the company’s assets and resources can be used, and enforced controls that can spot any wrongdoing are the best ways to reduce your family business’ chances of falling victim to embezzlement. Acknowledging what could happen, along with some planning to prevent it, will keep your family and business strong, successful and honest

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Martinsburg, West Virginia man accused of embezzlement also has been charged with forging and uttering checks

A man accused of embezzling from the Martinsburg Manpower office also has been charged with forging and uttering checks totaling more than $20,000 against Valley College’s bank account, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court documents.

Bradley Scott Martin of 356 Classic Vanville Road in Martinsburg was arraigned Monday by Magistrate Harry L. Snow on 16 counts of forgery, one count of uttering and one count of embezzlement, according to court documents.

Martin, who was working as a contract employee for the college, is accused in the incidents between October 2012 and April 2013, according to court documents.

West Virginia State Police Cpl. J.M. Walker reviewed 60 checks in question, which totaled $20,842, according to court documents.

Walker said Martin admitted to forging and uttering the checks, which he accessed while being responsible for accounts payable at the college, documents stated.

The branch manager for Manpower told police that Martin altered time slips and was overpaid by $4,442, court documents stated.

Police said Martin indicated that he used the proceeds from the alleged fraud to pay restitution to the court for a previous embezzlement conviction, according to court documents.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Woman Accused of Embezzlement Scheme at College Bookstore in Tennessee

 A woman that was entrusted with handling college students' money for years, pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the Jackson Community College Book Store where she worked as a store manager.

Investigator Chad French with Jackson Police told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that this case is arguably one of the largest amounts of money taken from a business in Jackson more than a two year period. French said police were contacted after an audit revealed more than $94,000 were missing from the bookstore.

"She was able to manipulate the paperwork accounting systems so when the cash came in she was able to manipulate the system and keep the cash for personal use," said Inv. French. "Generally it's caught before this amount but because of her position there, she was she was trusted and able to run up that amount."

Police said Nebraska Booking Company that owns the bookstore actually conducted the audit then reported the crime to authorities. School officials said the company is financially separate from the school.

"I mean I'm surprised to be honest with you that they let that go on so long that somebody could embezzle that amount of money, nearly $100,000, good heavens," said Dr. Bruce Blanding. President of Jackson State Community College.

School officials said they are doing everything they can to make sure Jackson State students are not affected, but there are concerns about the price of textbooks increasing due to theft.

"Our concern is our students receiving first class assistance in terms of having books provided to when they need them, at a reasonable cost," said Dr. Blanding.

President Blanding told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that the college will review its contract with the bookstore to make sure students are being taken care of at the best price.

Moody entered a guilty plea to felony theft of more than $60,000. According to the judgment, she is expected to pay back $50,000 in restitution to Nebraska Book Company, serve 11 months and 29 days in jail, 200 hours of community service and nine years of probation.



Employee theft and embezzlement can happen in any business. It’s rampant in small businesses because too often owners don’t have the right checks and balances in place. Following the five tips below will greatly reduce the chance that you are victimized.

1.   Know, it can happen to you – If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times, “I trust my bookkeeper.” Almost every case of embezzlement in small businesses involves a person who is trusted taking money from an unsuspecting business owner. We’ve seen a lifelong best friend steal from her business partner. We’ve seen a man take money from his siblings. We even know of a CPA who embezzled from his client. Honest, hardworking entrepreneurs have been taken for tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. The owner’s mistake -- they trusted too much. When you think it can’t happen to you, your business is the most susceptible. As Ronald Regan said, “Trust, but verify!”
Many business owners don’t want to put financial controls in place because they are afraid of making their bookkeeper feel untrusted. That logic is flawed. An honest bookkeeper would want checks and balances so that there could never be a question about his or her veracity. In fact, the bookkeepers we have seen complain the most about not being trusted are the ones who were later found to have been stealing from the company.
Further, it’s fundamentally unfair to your bookkeeper to give him unfettered access. At some point he or she is going to face financial difficulties; almost all of us do. Why tempt a person when he is most vulnerable by giving him uncontrolled access to your checkbook?

2.   Run all receipts and disbursements through a checking account. – Put any money that comes into the business into a checking account. Take any money that leaves the businesses out of a checking account. This provides a record of receipts and disbursements that cannot be tampered with, because it’s controlled by the bank. Bookkeepers can put false entries into financial statements, but they can’t manipulate cash in the bank. Everything should be reconciled to the checking account. The reconciliation should happen monthly, and the owner should review it in a timely manner. It only takes a few minutes.

3.   Create separation of duties – We advise that the same employee not set up a vendor, approve a payment and write the check. It’s better to have two people involved when money leaves the business. In the same way, one employee should not set up an employee on the payroll system and cause a paycheck to be cut. One bookkeeper, who is now living at the expense of the federal government, set up a fake employee to funnel money into her own account.

4.   Review statements – The owner should periodically and unpredictably review bank statements, credit card statements, and statements from the payroll company showing what each employee was paid. This should include looking at cancelled checks. After years of blind trust, one business owner finally reviewed a bank statement and found that her trusted bookkeeper was making cash withdrawals from ATMs, writing checks to himself, and using the company debit card to purchase personal items such as groceries.

5.   Audit the books – Periodically, have an unrelated third party review your books and accounts. This doesn’t have to be a comprehensive audit of every transaction -- spot checks will do. The cost is minimal, and the deterrent can save you thousands.

Employee theft and embezzlement is a massive problem. Statistics reveal that it results in one-third of all small-business failures. Set up the simple financial controls necessary to prevent it. Don’t let your business become a statistic.

Protecting your organization from embezzlement


The most prevalent finance crime affecting small businesses, nonprofits and clubs is embezzlement. Embezzlement is often times very tough to spot, but there are warning signs that you can watch for. Known as “The four D’s,” debt, divorce, drugs and disgruntlement, these pressures can lead even your most trustworthy employees down the path of financial embezzlement. Aside from the warning signs, you can protect your organization using very simple fraud prevention measures:

• Division of duties: Divide the accounting duties of check writing, invoicing, payroll, and bank deposits between at least two people to allow for a system of checks and balances. Cross-train and switch the duties amongst your employees periodically.

• Review your monthly bank statement: Look for red flags including checks in non-sequential order, cash withdrawals, checks to unfamiliar vendors, and checks to individuals.

• Embrace technology

Internet/mobile banking: Allows you to view current and past statements, paid checks, withdrawals, deposits, etc. anytime from nearly anywhere. Also allows you to set up email and text alerts to inform you when transactions above your predetermined threshold hit the account.

Positive pay: Allows you to send a list of the checks you write which the bank then compares to before paying. An embezzler trying to slip extra checks into the run will be tripped up before it even hits your account.

• Annual audits: Have your books audited by an independent third party. Audits can be expensive but they are worth it not only from an informational perspective but from a financial security standpoint. Audits can not only shed light on cash flow irregularities, but they can actually deter embezzlers who know that someone outside the organization will be checking their work.

• Deposit daily: Don’t temp fate by letting cash or checks build up at the office.

• Require time off: Employees who don’t want to take time off may just be loyal, but they may also be perpetrating fraud. A minimum of one contiguous week off for all employees will allow time for fraudulent activity such a check kiting to surface. It also allows you time to audit their work.

• Keep unused check stock in a safe place: Losing track of a check book is one of the most common was to expose your organization to fraud.

• Keep track of petty cash: Don’t temp people by being careless. Embezzlers usually start small and build over time.

You have worked hard to build and grow your business. You owe it to yourself and your employees to add these little extra steps to keep your business thriving.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cub Scout mom facing embezzlement charges in Michigan

Imlay City’s Cub Scout Pack 138’s former treasurer is expected in court Wednesday for a pre-preliminary hearing on charges that she stole something in the neighborhood of $3,000 from the Cub Scouts.

A Cub Scout mother accused of stealing from her young charges in Imlay City is due back in court Aug. 23. Cindy Lothrop, 50, of Imlay City, appeared before 71A District Court Laura Cheger Barnard Wednesday for a pre-preliminary hearing, charged with embezzling about $3,000 from Cub Scout Pack 138.

Friday, July 12, 2013


A San Antonio man has pleaded guilty to mail fraud in a case related to the conviction of a former University Medical Center vice president.

Rodolfo Reyes Mata, also known as Rudy Mata, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and aiding and abetting.

Mata submitted 15 fraudulent invoices to UMC for ATAM Technology Solutions, causing the hospital to pay nearly $55,000 to the fraudulent company.

Former UMC Vice President Greg Bruce pleaded guilty in June to a similar offense.

Bruce admitted that he conspired with Mata to submit fraudulent invoices for ATAM Technology Solutions and B.R. Media Monitoring, a fake company devised by Bruce, causing UMC to pay nearly $682,000 on invoices to these fraudulent companies.

The fraudulent activity ran from June 2007 through December 12, 2011.

The funds were used, in part, to pay Mata’s personal living expenses, educational expenses, and travel and entertainment expenses.

Overall, UMC identified approximately $735,000 that was embezzled.

Both Mata and Bruce face up to 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and restitution.

Plea possible in Auburn, California Parent Teacher Club embezzlement case

Prosecutors are offering to reduce a felony embezzlement charge to a misdemeanor if a plea deal can be reached with a former Auburn Elementary School Parent Teacher Club president.

Tracy Lynn Bucher, 37, was charged with a single felony count of embezzlement last August on allegations that she used a debit card issued by the club to misappropriate as much as $4,200 from the non-profit organization.

Out on $5,000 bail since then, Bucher most recently vacated a preliminary examination date of May 31 and her case was continued to July 18 for a conference.

She is currently charged with grand theft of funds exceeding $950 from the North Auburn’s school’s parent teacher club. The theft is alleged to have occurred sometime between July 1, 2011, and Aug. 20 of last year.

Court records indicate that the District Attorney’s Office offered to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor at a May 23 court appearance before Judge Mar

Prosecutors are offering to reduce a felony embezzlement charge to a misdemeanor if a plea deal can be reached with a former Auburn Elementary School Parent Teacher Club president.

Tracy Lynn Bucher, 37, was charged with a single felony count of embezzlement last August on allegations that she used a debit card issued by the club to misappropriate as much as $4,200 from the non-profit organization.

Out on $5,000 bail since then, Bucher most recently vacated a preliminary examination date of May 31 and her case was continued to July 18 for a conference.

She is currently charged with grand theft of funds exceeding $950 from the North Auburn’s school’s parent teacher club. The theft is alleged to have occurred sometime between July 1, 2011, and Aug. 20 of last year.

Court records indicate that the District Attorney’s Office offered to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor at a May 23 court appearance before Judge Mark Curry in Roseville.k Curry in Rosevill.
The case of an Auburn woman accused of embezzling as much as $4,200 from her children’s school’s parent teacher club has a new August court date.
A pretrial conference in the case of theft suspect Traci Lynn Bucher took place Thursday in Auburn’s Placer County Jail court and was continued to Aug. 8. The Placer County District Attorney’s Office has offered to reduce charges from a felony to a misdemeanor if Bucher pleads no contest, court records show.
Bucher, 38, was arrested last August on charges of embezzling from the Auburn Elementary School Parent Teacher Club while she served as the group’s president. Currently out on bail, she has pleaded not guilty to a single count of theft

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ashland, Virginia Little League president accused of embezzlement goes to court

The former Ashland Little League president accused of embezzlement will be back in court Wednesday.

Ashland Police say Lynn Newell also faces two counts of forgery. These accusations were first made when allegations surfaced that nearly $24,000 went missing from the little league organization.

Newell is scheduled to be in court 9 a.m.

Well-Respected Dublin School Volunteer Arrested on Embezzlement Charges in PTA in California

Jaylene Leslie, a board member for Dublin Partnerships in Education and former President of the Dublin Unified School District's Parent Faculty Club, was arrested by Dublin Police on charges of embezzlement and grand theft.

Police say that investigators learned through an eight-month investigation that Leslie had embezzled more than $38,000 from the Parent Faculty Club, after it was reported in November of 2012 that a large sum of money was missing.

Leslie, a special event coordinator at Dougherty Elementary School for six years, was honored for her school volunteer work by the Dublin School Board in May 2011, just two months before the alleged embezzlement began.

In a Patch YouTube video celebrating the honorees, who were recognized for "notable achievement and contributions," Superintendent Stephen Hanke said of Leslie: "She is always on top of the fundraising and takes on jobs that no one else will volunteer Leslie understands how schools and school budgets work, she's able to make decisions that benefit all students."

As she stood beside him smiling happily, Hanke added: "You will never find a more consistent and trustworthy volunteer with a strong work ethic."

According to her LinkedIn profile, Leslie is an "accomplished sales and event manager with over 10 years’ experience"  who "managed and secured multi-million dollar city and county waste contracts."

Her resume states that she's currently a sales consultant for Zuberance, Inc. in San Carlos and is a state delegate for the Democratic Party.

She previously worked for Alameda County Waste Management Inc., where she says she worked with city officials to manage waste contracts and secured multi-million dollar contracts.

Dublin Unified School District Superintendent Stephen Hanke is doing his best to step in front of the embezzlement scandal that is rocking quiet, family-friendly City of Dublin, CA. On Wednesday, police arrested Dublin parent Jaylene Leslie on embezzlement and grand theft charges. According to information released by Dublin Police Services, the 44-year-old mother of two lives on Asterwood Drive. Her primary residence is just a five-minute drive at 1.2 miles from Santa Rita Jail.

“I regret to inform you that a former Dougherty Elementary School Parent Faculty Club President has been arrested for embezzlement. An ongoing investigation since last fall has revealed that this parent was involved in stealing $38,522.59 from the Dougherty Elementary School PFC during the 2011-12 school year. We have been cooperating with the Dublin Police Department throughout the investigation. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I share the community’s deep disappointment over this situation. It is impossible for us to fully understand this selfish action. Our parents and teachers work tirelessly to raise funds to enhance our students’ educational programs and services. On behalf of these hard working and dedicated people, I want to stress that the District will continue to cooperate with law enforcement as they determine the penalty for this crime. The District is committed to ensuring that all programs for children at Dougherty Elementary School will continue as planned and will not be impacted by this matter. We are confident that this unfortunate incident will not hinder the ongoing work of our parent volunteers who tirelessly raise funds to provide activities that enrich the educational experiences of our students at all of our schools,” wrote Dr. Stephen Hanke in a public statement.

In addition to volunteering tirelessly for Dublin’s schools, Jaylene Leslie had served as the President of the Parent Faculty Club (PFC) at Dougherty Elementary School. Once considered a pillar of the community, Leslie is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail at Dublin’s Santa Rita Jail. “You will never find a more consistent and trustworthy volunteer with a strong work ethic,” praised Dublin School Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hanke at an award ceremony honoring exceptional employees and volunteers in 2011.

Although Jaylene Leslie is still listed as an active member on the Dublin Partners in Education (DPIE) Board of Directors, DPIE has confirmed that the fundraising arm of Dublin Unified School District is no longer affiliated with the organization. Like Dr. Hanke, DPIE Executive Director Janet Lockhart would like to reassure everyone in the Dublin community that the impact of Leslie’s betrayal is localized to Dougherty Elementary School. “I am confident in saying that Jaylene has never served on a committee or in a position to interact with DPIE funds. In fact, she has been absent most of this past year with some serious health issues. She resigned in June because of her lack of attendance at Board meetings and some upcoming surgeries she has scheduled. We have no concerns regarding Jaylene’s board membership and our accounting measures. Our money is managed by a CPA firm in Oakland. We have safe guards in place to prevent abuse by anyone,” said Lockhart.

DPIE is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation dedicated to fostering mutually beneficial business, community, and education partnerships for the benefit of students of the Dublin Unified School District. Since 1992, DPIE has engaged the community to raise much-needed funds and deliver student experiences that help Dublin schools maintain excellence.

Dougherty Elementary School in Dublin, CA has become ground zero for an embezzlement scandal that is rocking its quiet, family-friendly community. Last Wednesday, Dublin Police Services arrested Dublin parent Jaylene Leslie on embezzlement and grand theft charges. In addition to volunteering tirelessly for Dublin’s schools, Jaylene Leslie had served as the President of the Parent Faculty Club (PFC) at Dougherty Elementary School. Once considered a pillar of the community, Leslie is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail at Dublin’s Santa Rita Jail. “You will never find a more consistent and trustworthy volunteer with a strong work ethic,” praised Dublin School Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hanke at an award ceremony honoring exceptional employees and volunteers in 2011.

Although Jaylene Leslie is still listed as an active member on the Dublin Partners in Education (DPIE) Board of Directors, DPIE has confirmed that Leslie is no longer affiliated with the organization, which is the fundraising arm of Dublin Unified School District. “She has been absent most of this past year with some serious health issues. She resigned in June because of her lack of attendance at Board meetings and some upcoming surgeries she has scheduled,” confirmed DPIE Executive Director Janet Lockhart.

According to Dublin Police Chief Tom McCarthy, Dougherty Elementary School PFC was the focus of the investigation by Dublin Police Services. “I am not aware of any part of the investigation involving the Dublin Partners in Education (DPIE). The Dougherty Elementary PFC is a separate entity and I am unaware of Jaylene Leslie being involved with DPIE,” said Chief McCarthy. “We provided a press release to the news agencies in an attempt to identify any other victims and will conduct additional investigations if there are other victims that have suspicion of similar crime involving their organization.”

Dublin Police Services understands the public’s questions concerning Jaylene Leslie and the extent of her betrayal; however, Dublin Police Services cannot release any additional information regarding the accused at this time as the embezzlement case is awaiting trial by the Alameda County District Attorney.

Jaylene Leslie will be arraigned on August 9, 2013 at the Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice in Pleasanton. The Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice is located at 5672 Stoneridge Drive. Leslie is scheduled to appear at 9:00AM.

Greg Tibbetts, former Vicksburg Middle School principal, charged with embezzlement in Michigan

 Greg Tibbetts, the former principal of Vicksburg Middle School accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a former student, is now being charged with embezzling from the school district, according to Carrie Klein, Kalamazoo County chief assistant prosecutor.

Tibbetts has turned himself, and is currently in jail awaiting his arraignment this afternoon on a felony charge of embezzlement of $1,000 to $20,000, Klein said.
The arraignment will be done by video before District Judge Richard Santoni, Klein said.

The felony charge carries a prison sentence of up to five and/or $10,000 or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater, Klein said.

Klein said it has not been decided whether to combine the embezzlement case with the sex-abuse charges issued against Tibbetts last October.

Tibbetts already is facing 13 felony counts stemming from his alleged relationship with a former Vicksburg Middle School student. Tibbetts, 42, resigned as principal last November after those charges were filed.
In May, Tibbetts' attorney filed notice that he is pursuing an insanity defense in the sex-abuse case.

As a result, Tibbetts was ordered to undergo evaluation at the state's Center for Forensic Psychiatry.  A status hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 9.

The embezzlement allegations stem from a discovery last fall that about $15,000 in suspicious purchases were on a district-owned credit card controlled by Tibbetts.

Steve Goss, assistant superintendent for Vicksburg Community Schools, has said district officials found the  suspicious charges after the card had been compromised by identity theft unrelated to Tibbetts' arrest in the sex case.

As district officials were studying the credit card statements to rectify that situation, they discovered suspicious purchases made by Tibbetts.

Goss has said the purchases includes gift cards, prepaid cellphones and minutes, clothes and groceries.  One especially suspicious purchase was a surveillance camera disguised as a clock radio. The purchases occurred over a year-long period, Goss has said.

Tibbetts was charged with sex-abuse charges after a mother found sexually explicit texts that appeared to be from Tibbetts on her 16-year-old son's cellphone.

During an investigation by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office, the teen boy told officials Tibbetts supplied him with alcohol and expensive gifts as part of a two-year relationship that turned sexual in nature.

In addition to sexually explicit text messages exchanged between Tibbetts and the teen, the investigation turned up child pornography on Tibbetts' school-owned iPad.

Tibbetts is facing one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, five counts of using a computer with child sexually abusive material, five counts of possessing child sexually abusive material, one count of using a computer to solicit another to commit distribution of child sexually abusive material, and a count of exhibiting sexually abusive material to a minor.

Former Cuyahoga Heights district employee stole $3.4 million; gets 11-year prison term in Ohio

A former employee of the Cuyahoga Heights School District was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for the theft of more than $3.4 million from the district, said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach.
Joseph M. Palazzo, 31, of Independence, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and wire fraud.
U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson sentenced Palazzo to 136 months in prison and ordered him to pay $3.4 million in restitution.
"This investigation uncovered a multi-million dollar embezzlement scheme laced with a web of financial lies that left a local school district in financial peril," said Kathy Enstrom, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.
Palazzo was employed by the Cuyahoga Heights School District as its Information Technology Director until February 2011.  Palazzo was responsible for managing the district's IT Department, which included purchasing hardware and software and making other IT expenditures to benefit the district and its students, according to court documents.
Palazzo devised a scheme to divert millions of dollars of district funds to his personal use and the personal use of others.
This scheme involved Palazzo submitting to the district for payment false invoices that purported to be for IT-related goods and services purchased from legitimate companies by the district's IT Department to benefit the district.
Palazzo represented that the invoices he submitted were legitimate, and he approved the false invoices himself or forged the signature of another in the approval section, according to court documents.
However, these invoices were for services never performed, fictitious software and hardware, and software and hardware never received or already purchased by the district from another source.  The companies named on the invoices did not supply such goods to or perform such services for the district and were nothing more than "shells," according to court documents.
Palazzo's actions caused the district to issue checks to these shell vendor corporations, which were established and owned by others working with Palazzo.
As a result of the conduct of Palazzo and his co-conspirators, the district was defrauded and sustained a total loss of at least $3,333,448, according to court documents.
Palazzo also engaged in a second scheme to defraud the district.  It involved Palazzo purchasing various personal electronic items, such as I-Pads, cameras, and televisions, from legitimate district vendors.
Palazzo then altered the invoices from such purchases to falsely reflect that classroom items, such as digital microscopes, projectors, and laptops, had been purchased for the district and submitted those invoices to the district for payment.
Upon receipt of these personal electronic items, Palazzo sold them to third-parties at a discounted price and kept the money from such sales for his own personal use, according to the information.
As a result of the Palazzo's conduct in the second scheme, the district was defrauded and sustained an additional loss of at least $76,214, according to the information.

Police seek second suspect in PTA embezzlement case in Michigan

 Investigators in Grand Haven have a warrant out to arrest a second suspect accused of stealing money from an elementary school's PTA fund.

Police had already arrested Melissa Moore, 30, and charged her with embezzling up to $20,000 from Ferry Elementary School's Parent Teachers Association, for which Moore was a treasurer.
Investigators say they will not release the name of the second suspect until that person is arraigned.

Melissa Ann Moore, 30, is charged with embezzlement of between $1,000 and $20,000 from a nonprofit or charitable organization.

Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said Moore was the treasurer for the Ferry Elementary School PTA. She was arraigned in 59th District Court in Grand Haven this week and released on a $5,000 bond.

If convicted of the felony charge, Moore could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine, or three times the amount that was embezzled, whichever is greater.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a second suspect in the case, Hawke said Tuesday. That suspect's name is being withheld pending their arraignment on charges identical to Moore's.

Ferry Principal Steve Avram told the Tribune for a June 5 story on the case that he was notified a week earlier about discrepancies in the PTA's checking and savings accounts. He declined to name anyone targeted in the investigation.

“Representatives from the Ferry School PTA reported potential irregularities with their bank account," Hawke said in the earlier story. "It appears at this time that funds are unaccounted for or missing."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ex-boosters treasurer gets jail for embezzlement in Ohio

The former treasurer of the Springboro Athletic Boosters was sentenced today to 90 days in the Warren County jail – with work release - for embezzling about $440,000 from the group.
Thomas Harves, 61, of Springboro completed full restitution after the hearing. He was also placed on probation for three years and ordered to pay the costs of his prosecution during a hearing in Warren County Common Pleas Court.
You’re going to avoid prison as long as you do exactly what I say,” Judge James Flannery said during the hearing.
During an April 11 plea hearing, Harves admitted stealing $439,455 and pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated theft, a third-degree felony.
Authorities suspect Harve — a member of the Springboro Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to the district’s sports programs - took considerably more from the group over the past 20 years, but bank recors only went back to 2004 and might not reflect cash embezzlement, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said.
Harves had already repaid all but $157,883 to the booster group. The sentencing was delayed while Harves underwent skin cancer treatment.

Former Healdsburg, California soccer leader pleads guilty to embezzlement

The second Healdsburg youth soccer league official in less than three years to be charged with embezzlement pleaded guilty Monday to stealing $51,000 from the organization while she served as acting president and treasurer.

Mitzi Giron, 30, faces up to a year in the Sonoma County jail after admitting three felonies associated with the thefts during an 18-month period ending in January.

Her predecessor, Kyle Hoffman, 40, was sentenced to nine months in jail in August 2011 for stealing $58,000 from the league. Giron helped in the investigation of Hoffman and was present at his sentencing.

Like Hoffman, Giron will have a chance to minimize the amount of time she spends behind bars by paying back a “significant” portion of the stolen money before her Sept. 10 sentencing before Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite, prosecutor Bill Brockley said.

She's already paid about $8,000, he said.

“The amount of restitution will be a factor for her,” Brockley said.

He did not say how much she would have to pay or if she could avoid jail. Giron will not be sent to state prison based on her lack of a prior record, he said.

Police believe Giron started withdrawing money from the league's account using a league debit card about a month before Hoffman's sentencing.

The withdrawals were discovered last November during an internal investigation. Giron was unable to explain the transactions and was removed from her position, Brockley said.

She became the subject of a criminal investigation and turned herself in to authorities in May. She has been free on bail.

On Monday she pleaded guilty to grand theft by an employee, fraudulent use of an access card and possession of stolen property.

Hoffman pleaded no contest to writing more than 70 unauthorized checks from 2008 to 2010. He was ordered to serve nine months in jail after showing up in court with a check for about $12,000.

The league was saved from bankruptcy by donations and sponsorships. It serves 300 girls and boys ages 4-18 in Healdsburg, Geyserville and the Alexander Valley.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Woman sentenced in Mountain Ridge Band Parent Association embezzlement in Maryland

A Corriganville woman received a five-year suspended prison term and was ordered to make restitution of more than $14,000 to the Mountain Ridge Band Parent Association when her case was heard Wednesday in Allegany County Circuit Court.

Judge Donald E. Beachley, visiting from Washington County, sentenced Carol Lee Myers, 61, to five years in the Maryland Division of Correction and then suspended all five years through a plea agreement in which Myers pleaded guilty to one count of theft scheme greater than $1,000 and less than $10,000.

The theft scheme greater than $1,000 and less than $10,000 is a felony that carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

The judge also ordered Myers to serve five years of supervised probation and make restitution of $14,403.45 to the Mountain Ridge Band Parents Association.

The judge also ordered Myers to have no contact with the Mountain Ridge Band Parent Association and Mountain Ridge High School.

The imposed sentence reportedly followed the sentencing recommendation of the state.

The case investigated by Frostburg Police and the C3I Unit reportedly arose out of an incident involving sales from concessions to support the Mountain Ridge Band.

 Deputy State’s Attorney Fred Voss prosecuted the case. Myers was represented by attorney David M. Schramm of the Office of the Public Defender.

Former school secretary charged with theft in Montana

 Lakeside Elementary School secretary who resigned over alleged embezzling has been charged with felony theft in Flathead District Court.
Sandy Hawkes resigned at the June 5 meeting of the Somers/Lakeside School Board after it came to light that thousands of dollars were missing from the Somers Classified Employee Union account, of which Hawkes was the treasurer.

According to a court document, Hawkes confessed to a co-worker on May 25 that she had been embezzling money from the account.
The document alleges Hawkes later confessed to law enforcement “that she had embezzled approximately, she believed, $5,000 from the union account to help pay personal bills.”
An audit of the account indicated, however, that roughly $8,970 had been embezzled from the account by means of forged and otherwise unauthorized checks.
If convicted, Hawkes faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 as well as restitution to the employee union. A book-and-release warrant has been issued for her arrest.
No hearings have yet been scheduled.

A woman accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from Lakeside Elementary School while employed as its secretary has pleaded not guilty to felony theft.
Sandy Hawkes, 36, resigned at the June 5 meeting of the Somers/Lakeside School Board after it came to light that thousands of dollars were missing from the Somers Classified Employee Union account, of which Hawkes was the treasurer.

Hawkes allegedly confessed to a coworker on May 25 that she had been embezzling from the account, later confessing to law enforcement that she had taken approximately $5,000.
A later audit of the account claims nearly $9,000 was embezzled from the account by means of forged and unauthorized checks.
She entered her not-guilty plea Thursday in Flathead District Court. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Her next hearing is set for Oct. 16.

Lexington, South Carolina embezzlement case at White Knoll High nearing court date

After nearly three years, the case of alleged embezzlement against former White Knoll High School athletic director Bryan Butz is close to being resolved, an assistant prosecutor said last week.
A court date will be set for Butz’s case within the next few months and a resolution should be reached by early fall at the latest, assistant 11th Judicial Circuit solicitor Robert Elam said.
Elam declined to say what has delayed getting the case to trial has been.
In October 2010, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department charged the longtime White Knoll athletics director with embezzling more than $135,000 in public money.
According to a warrant in the felony case, the money came from a checking account that Butz was using at a Lexington Bank without the knowledge of school officials. From about 2006 to 2010, Butz deposited checks totaling $135,000 from the school’s Booster Club into the account. Then, he used a debit card to withdraw money from the account for his own use, according to a warrant in the case.
The Booster Club turned the money over to Butz because, in his position as athletic director, he was supposed to act as a go-between between the club and the high school. The High School would purchase sports items, such as uniforms, and pay for them with Booster Club money.
The checking account was discovered after Butz overdrew money from it, causing bank officials to notify the school Booster Club, according to Lexington 1 school officials, who spoke about the case when Butz was arrested and relieved of his $80,000-a-year job.
Law officials have not said what Butz did with the money he is alleged to have taken. Butz has pleaded not guilty in the case.
Butz joined the school in 2002 as an athletics trainer. In 2006, he was promoted to athletics director. White Knoll, with more than 1,800 students, is the district’s second largest high school.

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