Friday, August 30, 2013

Central Michigan University professor charged with embezzlement

A Central Michigan University psychology professor is accused of embezzling money by creating fake participants in research and pocketing the money.

In addition to embezzlement by an agent or trustee between $20,000 and $50,000, Justin Dohoon Oh-Lee is charged in Isabella County with false pretenses between $20,000 and $50,000.

Oh-Lee’s next court date is Thursday at 8:15 a.m. in Judge William Rush’s Mt. Pleasant courtroom.

Oh-Lee, 50, of Mt. Pleasant is free in lieu of $100,000 bond. He is accused of keeping thousands of dollars in funds that were earmarked to pay participants in a Parkinson’s disease research program, according to court records, allegedly gambling the money at the Soaring Eagle Casino.

A senior auditor at CMU contacted university police in April after finding account irregularities in Oh-Lee’s professional development account, according to court records.

Some of Oh-Lee’s research involved research that compensated participants with stipends.

Another CMU employee in November 2012 was performing an unrelated transfer in a CMU account that held Oh-Lee’s research funds when she saw “higher than anticipated participant stipend activity,” according to court records.

Former Missouri State U Bookstore Manager Sentenced to 63 Months for Embezzlement

The former manager of the Missouri State University bookstore was sentenced in federal court Thursday for embezzling more than $1.1 million by pocketing the money from the school’s textbook buyback program.

Mark Brixey, 48, of Ozark, Mo., was sentenced to five years and three months (63 months) in federal prison without parole.

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, says the court also ordered Brixey to pay $1,329,484 in total restitution to his victims, including $163,237 to Missouri State University, $166,247 to the Internal Revenue Service and $1 million to Zurich American Insurance Company.

On March 26, 2013, Brixey pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and filing a false tax return. Brixey, the manager of the MSU bookstore from 1998 to August 2012, admitted that he embezzled $1,163,237 from the student textbook buy-back program.

Brixey’s 10-year fraud scheme began in 2003 with the theft of nearly $29,000 and escalated each year, with more than $190,000 stolen during each of the last two full years of the scheme in 2010 and 2011. Brixey embezzled another $20,580 before he resigned in 2012.

Textbook Buyback Scheme

As manager of the MSU bookstore, Brixey handled all contacts related to the textbook buy-back program. At the close of each semester, MSU students had the opportunity to sell their used textbooks to Follett Educational Services, which contracted with MSU to administer the book buy-back program. Follett operated 10 textbook buy-back stations on the MSU campus during finals week in December and May of each year.

On the last day of each buy-back period, a Follett representative prepared a report that detailed how many textbooks were purchased and at what price. A Follett representative also calculated the commissions to be paid to MSU for allowing Follett to conduct the textbook buy-back program at the university.  A Follett representative gave a sight draft/check to Brixey for payment of the commission to MSU (beginning in 2011, the Follett representative paid the commission in cash directly to Brixey).

Follett also purchased textbooks that were no longer used by MSU professors directly from the MSU bookstore. Similar to the textbook buy-back program, a Follett representative calculated the total amount to be paid to MSU for these books and gave a sight draft/check to Brixey. The bookstore also disposed of surplus textbooks by reselling them to textbook wholesalers, such as MBS Textbook Exchange, Inc., and Nebraska Book Company.

When Brixey received sight drafts/checks payable to MSU for these buy-back programs, he took those checks to the MSU bursar’s office. Brixey falsely claimed that the sight drafts/checks were needed to pay students for books purchased in the buy-back program. The bursar’s office relied upon Brixey’s misrepresentations and provided cash to Brixey.

Brixey did not record the cash received in the MSU Bookstore accounting system, but instead used the cash for his personal benefit.

Count One: Wire Fraud

Brixey admitted that he executed the scheme to cause electronic transmissions related to the processing of sight drafts (in connection with the commissions and the purchase of textbooks).

Count Two: Money Laundering

Brixey admitted that he concealed his fraud scheme by disguising the proceeds through multiple financial transactions. Brixey routinely deposited the proceeds of his fraud scheme into Educational Credit Union accounts then transferred cash from those accounts to purchase and add value to certificates of deposit. Between Jan. 11, 2008, and July 16, 2012, Brixey made or caused to be made 55 transfers totaling $121,000 from Education Credit Union deposit accounts to Educational Credit Union certificates of deposit.

Count Three: Filing a False Tax Return

Brixey admitted that on April 15, 2011, he filed a tax return that failed to report approximately $194,521 in income received through the fraud scheme in 2010. Brixey also filed a tax return for 2011 that failed to report $192,202 of income from his fraud scheme and a tax return for 2009 that failed to report $166,354 of income from his fraud scheme.

Between 2009 and 2011, Brixey failed to report a total of $553,077 of income from his fraud scheme, resulting in a tax loss to the government of approximately $166,247 for those three years.

This case was prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department and the Greene County, Mo., Prosecuting Attorney.

NC audit cites laptop misuse by school CIO

State Auditor Beth Wood on Thursday released findings of an investigation that originated from a tip.

The report says the chief information officer acquired an Apple MacBook Pro for the Winston-Salem school in 2010 that cost more than $2,000, but she said the laptop had connectivity problems and acquired another computer. Auditors say she took home the first laptop, which appeared to work properly and her son used at Appalachian State University.

Interim Chancellor James Moeser (MEE-zuhr) says the school took disciplinary action against the unnamed employee but did not say how. He says other changes are being made to reduce property misuse.

Woman admits to embezzling church funds in Alabama

The former financial secretary at an Alabama Baptist association pleaded guilty Aug. 28 to stealing from her employer and was then arrested on additional charges claiming she took even more.

Tonya Renee Woodward, 52, of Dothan, Ala., entered what's referred to as a blind guilty plea, which means there was no agreement for sentencing. She pleaded guilty in Houston County Circuit Court to 10 felony second-degree theft charges filed against her.

Hours later deputies served a four-count felony indictment charging Woodward with multiple first-degree theft offenses alleging she stole over $130,000 from the Columbia Baptist Association over a four-year period.

Attorney Matt Lamere told the Dothan Eagle his client was unaware of the additional charges when she entered the guilty plea. “I’m a little bit disappointed I wasn’t informed about the indictments,” Lamere said.

Dothan police arrested Woodward Oct. 8, 2012, on charges alleging that she stole $8,061.75 over a four-month period from the 53-church association with an annual budget of just under $350,000. She faces sentencing Oct. 16 and could serve from one to 10 years in prison on each of the 10 Class C felony crimes of second-degree theft of property.

In a report to Columbia Baptist Association last fall, administrative team chairman Allen Singley told messengers that the association’s director of missions found money missing and by her own admission it was determined that the financial secretary took the funds.

Director of Missions Jerry Grandstaff said in his report that “he has never been more disappointed, more taken advantage of, more hurt, more grieved and more embarrassed” than he had been in the previous two weeks, according to minutes from the Columbia Baptist Association annual fall meeting Oct. 15 at Selma Baptist Church.

Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska told the Dothan newspaper that in her statement to police, Woodward said “the devil made her do it.”

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Arizona school accounting services manager sentenced in embezzlement case

Without audit solutions, it's possible for problems within accounts payable to stay hidden for years. The more frequently leaders use these important tools, the more likely they are to not only deter crime, but to find instances of misappropriation before they become severe.
According to the Arizona Daily Star, the former accounting services manager for Pima County's Joint Technical Education District was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for embezzling $300,000 of funds intended for the school's use. The source reported that the perpetrator, Melinda Carpio, is also required to serve five years probation following the completion of her time in prison, as well as to pay more than $288,000 in restitution.
The news provider explained that Carpio stole the funds by making payments to phony vendors, after which point she and her husband would make transfers into their own bank accounts. KTVK-TV reported that the discovery was made after the school's CFO saw a discrepancy between the educational institution's expenditures and a listed vendor payment. More incidents came to light when an internal accounts payable audit was conducted.
It's never too late to make auditing a priority. By using best-of-breed solutions, organizations in any industry can protect their finances from harm.

Linda Schrenko to be freed from home confinement in Georgia

Linda Schrenko, the former state school superintendent and Columbia County teacher who was found guilty of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal education funding, will be released from home confinement Thursday.

Schrenko served almost six months in home confinement after being released in March from a minimum-security women’s work camp in Coleman, Fla., according to Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke.
Out of safety concerns, Burke could not confirm the location of Schrenko’s home confinement or whether it was a private residence or a halfway house. She will now begin a three-year probation sentence and is required to pay $414,000 in restitution.
Schrenko received an eight-year prison sentence in 2006 for embezzling education funding while working in the state’s highest educational office from 1994 to 2002.
Schrenko and her deputy superintendent, Merle Temple, were found to have diverted more than $600,000 intended for honors students and two schools for the deaf into her unsuccessful 2002 run for governor and plastic surgery, according to previous reports.
Both pleaded guilty, and Temple was sentenced to 97 months in prison.
In addition, South African businessman Stephan Botes was sentenced to 97 months in prison for using his company to funnel some of the embezzled money.

Paper trail will matter in football league embezzlement case in California


With football season around the corner, we are seeing the case of a woman accused of embezzling $100,000 from her son’s football league showing up in the news. The present news reports about this case have been focused on the initial arrest, which occurred in a different state from the state where the crime allegedly happened. As a result, jurisdictional questions are being asked by the press.

Investigations and prosecutions related to financial crimes are often complex matters. Because the federal government has a strong policy interest in regulating the financial industry, many white-collar crimes can be the subject of a state investigation, a federal investigation or both. This can lead to a complicated process in which various governmental entities try to assert jurisdiction over the same case.

Further complicating matters in white-collar crimes cases is the nature of the evidence. Unlike a burglary or robbery, white-collar crimes are usually devoid of physical evidence and often have no eyewitness testimony. These cases often hinge on interpretation of a paper trail. To further complicate matters in the 21st Century, the paper trail is often entirely digital.

In a criminal trial, the evidence will be tested in court and evaluated by a jury. Interpreting the sort of evidence presented in an embezzlement case is a challenge for most people, and therefore jurors will rely on expert witnesses’ interpretations of financial records. The prosecution’s expert witness will try to connect the dots between the illegal act and accounts or assets that the defendant controlled.

However, all evidence in a criminal trial is subject to challenge from the defense. Just as the prosecution in an embezzlement case will try to connect the money to the defendant, the defense will have its own experts and will present an alternate theory of events that could disconnect the dots of the prosecution’s case.

Former PTA president facing jail for embezzlement in California

The former PTA president of a Daly City elementary school is facing up to six months county jail for embezzling $14,000 of the organization’s money include funds raised through book and ice cream sales, according to prosecutors.

Mathew Glenn Hidalgo, 28, pleaded no contest in June to one felony count of embezzlement in return for no prison time and the dismissal of another charge. He delayed a scheduled sentencing hearing until Oct. 3 to allow the judge who accepted his plea deal to be the one to impose sentence. Meanwhile, he remains free from custody on his own recognizance.

Hidalgo, of Belmont, was president of the PTA at Margaret Pauline Brown Elementary School in Daly City. Prosecutors say, between September and November 2012, Hidalgo cashed checks for his own use from the PTA account and also did not deposit money raised by ice cream and book sales for the school.

Hidalgo told others he gave $7,000 of the money to the school principal to buy computers but, when confronted by the administrator, said he borrowed the funds to pay $5,000 in back taxes to the IRS and prevent the repossession of his vehicle, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Booster Club Guidelines Guard Against Embezzlement


When Goodrich (Mich.) High School Athletic Booster Club treasurer Tonya Yannaki suddenly stopped attending meetings last year, her fellow boosters demanded she turn over the club's financial statements. That's when they discovered that Yannaki had transferred $48,000 from club bank accounts into her personal account over a 12-month period. The money helped pay bills and buy a house, according to investigators. Yannaki has since made restitution but still faces up to 10 years in prison.

The Yannaki case followed a similar incident in nearby Livonia, where the former president of the Bentley High School Boosters Club was charged with stealing $17,000. "That's the problem with these clubs — there's no checks and balances," Genesee County Prosecutor David S. Leyton told The Flint Journal. "It's too easy."

Steve Beden, executive director of the North American Booster Club Association, agrees that the very nature of prep-level fundraising leaves assets susceptible. Many booster organizations embrace anyone who volunteers their services and may often overlook the fact that the treasurer has little or no professional background in finance. "Somebody is tagged, pushed into the role of treasurer and given the checkbook," Beden says. "There's no accounting, and there are no oversight committees. Clubs that operate like that can end up getting in trouble."

Booster club embezzlement is a crime of opportunity predicated on trust, says Cynthia McMannon, an assistant executive director of the Arizona Interscholastic Association who specializes in finance and human resources. "While fraud cannot succeed without trust, conducting a successful booster club is also based upon trust," she says. "Booster club members must have a certain degree of autonomy and authority. The question is, how much?"

Beden has spoken with many an athletic director who claims to have experienced strained relations with one or more booster clubs. That friction is often the result of power struggles, when boosters believe they should have control over such administrative duties as the hiring and firing of coaches. As a result, some athletic directors tend to "push the clubs into left field," he says. "They really don't know what else to do with them."

Those clubs then operate with little oversight or support, and members may be more willing to risk breaking the law. It is far easier for someone to rationalize dishonest behavior in that type of atmosphere, McMannon says.

"If somebody wants to steal something, it's going to get stolen," adds Mike Kimmons, assistant principal and athletic administrator at Adamsville (Tenn.) Junior/Senior High School, who is doing his best to make that as difficult as possible. Years ago, the school suffered booster club fraud that resulted in the elimination of all such organizations. Now that the organizations have been reinstated, Kimmons instructs members of the five athletics-related booster clubs to deposit all funds directly into individual team accounts that are monitored by the school's full-time bookkeeper. "I'm not responsible for the booster clubs, but any money they raise is going to go through me or another administrator," he says, stressing that the policy makes theft a lot less tempting.

Adamsville appears to have gotten a jump-start on Tennessee's School Support Organization Financial Accountability Act, which will take effect July 1. Under the new law — passed last June in an effort to eliminate illegal fundraising, fraudulent accounting and misappropriation of booster club funds — every school principal in the state will have ultimate control over all booster clubs and can dissolve them at any time. Additionally, each booster organization must provide officers' names with complete contact details and election dates, as well as draft bylaws and submit annual goals.

Of the estimated 1.3 million booster clubs supporting schools, colleges, universities, municipalities and private organizations, NABCA says that few actually take the time to develop bylaws or objectives. That's why the association provides a sample "code of ethics" to help clubs create their own — including a statement that all members will "hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards for honesty, truthfulness and public service." With language like that, Beden says, club members tempted to pocket funds or manipulate accounts might think twice.

In the wake of the Bentley High embezzlement, a booster organization at a neighboring school decided to require that copies of bank statements be provided to and reviewed by members at meetings, and that one club member not authorized to sign the group's checks audit the checking account on a quarterly basis.

Those are among the defenses that Beden and McMannon suggest, in addition to the following:
Find a local accountant (ideally a parent or alum) who will provide pro bono assistance to ensure that proper accounting procedures are followed by the treasurer. Better yet, ask that person to be the treasurer.
Invite the athletic director, principal or another school administrator to sit on the club's executive board. This will send a clear message that the club values and respects its relationship with the school.
Require that all money collected from game-night concessions and merchandise sales immediately be deposited in a local bank's 24-hour drop box or locked in the school's safe. No booster club member should take money home.
Purchase fidelity bond insurance (also known as a commercial crime policy) to protect against losses resulting from stolen money.
Upload financial records and files of all booster clubs onto a school computer, ensuring backups.
Consider creating an executive booster club to oversee all of a school's booster groups. This organization can serve as a reporting agency, as well as mediator and mentor — helping generate fair opportunities for booster clubs of smaller sports and training all new members in proper policies and procedures.
Booster club officers may be the most common suspects in embezzlement cases, but they aren't always to blame. Last November, a former athletic department secretary at El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif., pleaded guilty to stealing an estimated $204,000 from athletic booster clubs over nine years, and was sentenced to a year of house arrest and ordered to pay back the money. And in December, a former employee of Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas who handled cash proceeds from ticket sales at games and other events was indicted on felony theft charges in connection with more than $95,000 missing from the school's booster club coffers. School officials say she wrote checks to herself and forged the athletic director's signature.

"It's sad any time something like that happens, because when the situation hits the papers — and in most cases, it does — you're going to lose support for that organization. And not just that year, but also in the coming years," Beden says. "So even when the people who caused the problems are long gone, the kids will be the ones paying the price."

The Goodrich booster club was lucky. It recouped the stolen money, which doesn't always happen. Goodrich boosters also noticed more Friday night bingo players than usual after charges were filed against Yannaki — an indication that the organization still has the community's support.

The reason residents might be up in arms about booster-club embezzlement is also what may drive them to lend additional support in times of need. "Residents take ownership in a team, and they feel like the money belongs to them," Kimmons says.

Beden claims the majority of booster clubs are slowly becoming more organized and disciplined. That said, the actions of any individual member could still send a club reeling. "These are parents who are good people," he says. "They do not take on their roles with the goal of going out and doing something wrong. But they can get in over their heads."

Former principal accused of embezzlement in New Hampshire

The former principal of a private religious school in Litchfield has been charged with stealing more than $150,000 from the school over a four-year period.
A Hillsborough County Superior Court grand jury indicted Shannon Dannible, 36, of Amesbury, Mass., on a single count of theft by unauthorized taking and transfer for taking money out of the St. Francis of Assisi Parish school accounts from 2007-11. Dannible is charged with taking about $152,467, according to the indictment.

The current principal of the school, Amy Malinowski, was not immediately available for comment. The school is still on summer break and classes resume Sept. 3, according to an automated message at the school.
Dannible is accused of taking money out of the school’s accounts by writing herself checks, withdrawing cash and “directing school funds to pay off personal debts,” according to court records.
The alleged thefts all happened between Aug. 1, 2007 and June 30, 2011, according to the indictment.
The school is a “parish school,” meaning it is operated by the St. Francis of Assisi Parish but, like all Catholic schools in the state, comes under the overarching auspices of the Diocese of Manchester, according to diocese spokesman, Patrick McGee Sr.
McGee said the diocese has cooperated fully with investigators from the state Attorney General’s Office and said the alleged theft has not and will not affect the day-to-day operations at the school.
“It’s not affecting staffing, the school programs or the learning environment. Period,” McGee said. “This is not affecting the viability of the school in any way.”
In fact, enrollment at the school was up 30 percent last year over the previous year, he said, and a good deal of the missing $150,000 was covered by the school’s insurance policies.
The school also has instituted “additional internal financial controls” to prevent anything similar happening in the future, he said.
Assistant Attorney General Ben Agati said diocese officials brought the alleged theft to the Attorney General’s attention after completing a financial audit following Dannible’s departure in 2011.
Agati said the diocese and the school have been “100 percent cooperative.” He said he could not talk specifically about what Dannible allegedly used the money for, but that it used was for personal expense

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mechanicsville, Virginia pastor due in court for embezzling thousands from church

The Mechanicsville pastor accused of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from his own church will face a judge in Hanover Wednesday.
According to court records Chris Phillips said this all happened after a woman he paid for sex, threatened to publish photos of him.
According to the affidavit, Phillips gave her $100,000 over the course of three months. Police say he embezzled at least $80,000 from the church.
Phillips serves as pastor of the Mechanicsville Advent Christian Church.

Former Los Gatos, California Convent Employee Sentenced to 14 Months’ Imprisonment for Embezzlement

A former employee for the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary Catholic Convent in Los Gatos, California, was sentenced yesterday to 14 months in prison and ordered to pay $110,000 in restitution for embezzling from the Convent, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.
Linda Gomez (a/k/a Linda Surrett), 67, formerly of Sunnyvale, California, and currently of Chandler, Arizona, pleaded guilty on October 25, 2012. In pleading guilty, Gomez admitted that she used her administrative positions to embezzle cash and to charge personal expenses to a Convent charge card. According to the indictment and evidence presented at sentencing, between 1987 and 2010, Gomez worked for the Convent in various administrative capacities, including as the director of food services and the manager of an on-site convenience store. As part of her professional responsibilities, Gomez made purchases for the 75 Catholic nuns and 60 lay employees at the Convent.
Between March 2008 and her resignation in May 2010, Gomez used various methods to embezzle from the Convent, including obtaining fraudulent reimbursements or credits for products she falsely claimed she had purchased for the Convent and its nuns. In addition to embezzling more than $47,000 in cash, Gomez also diverted more than $53,000 of Convent funds for personal expenses such as jewelry, high-end cutlery, purses, shoes, kitchen appliances, and numerous purchases on the QVC and Home Shopping Networks.
Gomez was charged by an indictment filed on December 22, 2011. The indictment alleges 14 counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1343, and three counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1341. Gomez pleaded guilty, with no plea agreement, to all 17 counts in the indictment.
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge D. Lowell Jensen. In imposing sentence, Judge Jensen found that the defendant had abused a private position of trust to facilitate her offense and had also made misrepresentations regarding acting on behalf of a religious organization. The defendant was also sentenced to a three-year period of supervised release with conditions that limit her ability to hold fiduciary roles and also ordered to pay over $110,000 in restitution. At the sentencing hearing, Judge Jensen ordered Gomez to self-surrender by December 4, 2013, to begin serving her prison sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Fazioli is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Laurie Worthen. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Former White Knoll, South Carolina High athletics director pleads guilty to embezzlement

 Former White Knoll High School athletics director Bryan Butz pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling money raised to help equip sports teams.

His sentencing was deferred until Sept. 30, after Assistant 11th Circuit Solicitor Robert Elam said discussions are continuing about repayment.

“We have some issues regarding restitution,” he said.

Butz is charged with embezzling more than $135,000 in public money, but Elam said there is a dispute on the amount.

Circuit Judge Robert Hood accepted the plea.

Butz said little other than to tell the judge he is on medication for depression.

The outcome came nearly three years after Butz was charged with embezzling money.

He took checks from the school athletic booster club and deposited them in a private checking account from 2006-10, officials have said.

Butz handled the club money because, as athletic director, he was supposed to buy things such as uniforms for school teams with the funds.

He came to the school in 2002 as an athletics trainer and was later promoted to athletics director.

White Knoll is the second-largest high school in Lexington 1 with more than 1,800 students.

Read more here:

Trenton, Michigan Athletic Director Pleas Not Guilty to Embezzlement Charge

Trenton Athletic Director Bret Woodley pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of embezzlement at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit.

Woodley, 40, of Taylor, was arraigned before Judge James Shylinkski at the Wayne County Circuit Court.

A preliminary trial date for Woodley was scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 11 at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.

Authorities said Woodley, who is also an assistant principal at Trenton High School and a seasonal part-time Trenton employee, embezzled between $1,000 and $20,000 while working at the Kennedy Aquatic Center.

Chesterfield, Virginia school employee arrested for embezzlement

A Chesterfield school employee is now behind bars. 58-year-old Emmett M. Berry is accused of stealing from his own school.

Police say the thefts went on for months before he was arrested on three counts of embezzlement at Curtis Elementary School.

The school system is being tight lipped, but we got our hands on the court documents.

Chesterfield school spokesperson Shawn Smith released a short statement.

"Mr. Berry is no longer employed by Chesterfield Schools," said Smith.

According to court documents, the alleged thefts date back to March of 2012 and continued off and on until August of this year. Berry is basically accused of raiding the janitor's closet. Police say he took things like boxes of paper towels and even toilet tissue. Police say the items stolen total more than $600.

"I had no clue," said Angel Hayzlett who has young family members who attend Curtis Elementary School. "I hadn't heard about it until now. Crazy! I guess he needed to clean his house."

Berry is due in court in early November.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Marine City, Michigan PTO treasurer charged with embezzlement

The Parent Teacher Organization at Belle River Elementary School in Marine City discovered this summer that funds meant for students were being pilfered by someone else.

That person is alleged to be the PTO Treasurer Jennifer Alloy of Marine City; she was arrested Aug. 14 by Marine City police. She was arraigned and had a preliminary exam before Judge Michael Hulewicz in Marine City District Court. Alloy is charged with embezzlement under $20,000. Alloy's next court date will be Aug. 28 in front of Hulewicz.

PTO President Kelly Vogler said when they first found out about the stolen money they were taken totally by surprise.

"It was quite a shock," she said. "We never thought we would ever be going through this. We all have gone through the gamut of emotions. Now, we are trying to keep positive and take the high road."

Marine City Police Chief Don Tillery said he couldn't comment on the arrest while it was still in court. Alloy was appointed defense attorney Randolph Martinek, Jr. and Senior Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mary Kelly is prosecutor.

Belle River parent Nicole Hart said the amount was very close to $20,000 and possibly more. Hart said Alloy paid back $3,000 of it so the charges would be for under $20,000.

Hart said she believes Alloy began stealing from the fund "right when she took office before school even started on July 2012."

The offense involves writing phony checks, she said.

Carrie Devries, vice president of the PTO, said the amount of support the parents have given them is very encouraging during this time.

"We are trying to keep a positive spin on it and re-build," she said.

Vogler said they have instituted tighter measures in their accounting. They already had the two signature rule on checks when Alloy was in office, but now it will take three signatures on checks and they will be working directly with the Belle River Elementary office.

"We will have eyes on everything going in and going out," she said. "We are looking at ways that this will never happen again."

They have several fundraisers coming up in the coming months, starting with a Mom-to-Mom Bake Sale on Sept. 14, a Road Rally at Anita's Riverfront Grille on Sept. 28 and their annual Fun Run for the kids Oct. 11. They will also sponsor a Spookfest for Halloween on Oct. 25 and plan a Ladies Night Out on Nov. 16.

The Marine City Booster Club, another service group that works outside of the school's leadership, had the same problem three years ago, when - as booster club treasurer - Carrie Rhodes was caught pulling money out of their account to deposit into her own purse, totaling $35,000. Barbara Haman, then the ECSD director of financing, had said after the incident, she shared district-approved procedures for handling cash and making disbursements with various service groups in the district.

County school official gets 3.5 years for $300,000 embezzlement in Arizona

The woman accused of ripping off Pima County’s Joint Technical Education District of hundreds of thousands of dollars was sentenced to 3ƒ years in prison Monday.

Melinda Carpio pleaded guilty in Pima County Superior Court in July to attempted fraudulent schemes and artifices and attempted theft for embezzling nearly $300,000 from JTED, where she worked as accounting services manager.

“This was a huge amount of money you stole,” Judge Richard Nichols said at the sentencing.

Nichols said the crimes represented a betrayal of the trust placed in Carpio as a public employee. He also noted that Carpio and her husband, Enrique, were well-paid, making a combined $145,000 per year.

The charges against Enrique Carpio were later dropped as part of the plea agreement.

“If you steal from the public, you’re going to go to prison,” Assistant Arizona Attorney General Mike Jette said after the sentencing.

JTED Superintendent Alan Storm told the judge that Melinda Carpio’s scheme occurred over four fiscal years, when she diverted district funds for services to fictitious vendor accounts that she and her husband later deposited into their own bank accounts.

“Talk about an amazing betrayal of taxpayers, family and friends,” Storm said.

Melinda Carpio offered a tearful apology for the multiyear graft, saying she was ashamed of herself for what she had done. “I broke the law and I take full responsibility,” she said.

In addition to prison, Melinda Carpio will serve five years’ probation after her release and be required to pay more than $288,000 in restitution.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Diamond Bar school club rebounding from embezzlement In California

As Castle Rock Elementary School’s Community Club gears up for its busiest fundraising season, the club is trying to rebuild the confidence of its members after its former treasurer pleaded no contest last month to allegedly taking more than $40,000 in club money over a six-year period.

The nonprofit club’s new leadership has since implemented stricter financial control with frequent internal audits and bank statements available monthly to members, according to executive board member Cindy Yee, one of five executive members.

The problems came from the board previously accepting spreadsheets rather than statements from former treasurer Lisa May, now known as Lisa Haygood, Yee said. May returns to court Oct. 23 for sentencing.

“The way things were done in the past, there were no checks and balances with the treasurer,” Yee said. “We only went by what she would provide, which was an Excel spreadsheet.”

New members coming onto the board discovered the discrepancies and reported the matter to police. May left her position as treasurer in 2011 because her child no longer attended the elementary school.

“We noticed that there was no money and we had been doing a lot of fundraising,” Yee said. “Things just didn’t make sense, we just had a hunch so we dug deeper and subpoenaed bank records and bank statements.”

The Sheriff’s Department arrested May in March for forgery and grand theft, according to Detective Derrick Coleman, who investigated the case. Detectives sifted through a paper trail of bank records, checks and receipts before presenting the case to the District Attorney’s Office, which brought six felony charges against May.

Police found forged signatures on documents that required both the president and treasurer to sign off on, Yee said.

She said the suspects’ cash donations never made it to the bank.

Yee said she spoke about the topic to show transparency now that the investigation has concluded.

“We don’t brush these things under the rug,” she said. “Whenever we find anything like this, we prosecute to the full extent.”

She hopes the Castle Rock Community Club’s story will also incite other clubs to audit their finances.

The club’s finances have turned around in recent years, she said.

“What I was really impressed with was with how quickly we were able to fund raise and watch our spending for the last two years and get back on track,” Yee said. “We built back up our bank account with the help of the students, the parents and the community club. We’re financially sound, we’re doing really well.”

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ex-Glendora, California Unified employee arrested in missing cash case

Glendora police detectives on Tuesday arrested a 35-year employee of the Glendora Unified School District after investigators uncovered the misappropriation of more than $350,000 in district funds.

Upland resident Cynthia Schlig, 57, was charged with five felony counts of forgery, embezzlement and misappropriation of funds, Los Angeles County District Attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison said. The former accounting specialist in the finance department is being held in the Glendora Jail Facility on $140,000 bail.

The arrest was the result of a 19-month investigation by officials from Glendora Unified, Glendora police and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, according to Glendora police Lt. Brian Summers.

“Comprehensive forensic audits of Schlig’s work from the previous five years revealed an elaborate scheme of masking incoming cash with check deposits and altering financial documents, among other tactics,” Summers said in a statement.

The district’s business office administration discovered the irregularities and made the initial report of the missing funds in January 2012, Superintendent Robert Voors said Tuesday.

“When it was discovered, she resigned right away,” Voors said. “We called the police right away and what we ended up uncovering was a very elaborate and complex system of theft over a number of years.”

The district undergoes state, federal and independent audits annually, he said, and has added new safeguards to prevent a repeat situation.

“It’s unfortunate because you have hundreds of employees going above and beyond every day,” Voors said, “but then you have one big situation like this and everything else gets overlooked.”

The superintendent said it was the district’s intent to seek and recover the money that was taken.

“Glendora Unified School District officials have been an invaluable resource in providing assistance with this investigation,” Glendora Police Chief Rob Castro said in a statement. “School district officials have contributed countless hours of assistance, producing supporting documents, which included forensic audits that have helped investigators collect the evidence necessary to proceed with this case.”

Schlig is expected to be arraigned on Thursday at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles.

A longtime Glendora Unified School District employee accused of embezzling more than $350,000 entered a not guilty plea in court Thursday, officials said.

Cynthia Lee Schlig, 57, of Upland entered the plea at an arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales said. She is charged with five felony counts including forgery, embezzlement and misappropriation of funds.

Schlig was ordered back to court Sept. 26 for a preliminary hearing setting, Davila-Morales said.

Glendora investigators arrested Schlig Tuesday following 19 months of investigation, Glendora police Lt. Brian Summers said.

Detectives found evidence of the embezzlement scheme going back five years, the lieutenant said.

Schlig, a former accounting specialist for the district’s finance department, had worked for the GUSD for 35 years, officials said.

She resigned her position in January of 2012, shortly after the allegations came to light, district officials said.

Schlig remained in custody Friday at the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood in lieu of $140,000 bail, county booking records show.

Lt. Brian Summer said Schlig, a 57-year-old 35-year former employee of the Glendora Unified School District’s finance department, was arrested after a 19-month investigation. He said the investigation began after school district officials notified police of the missing funds in January 2012.

“The lengthy investigation included a comprehensive forensic audit of accounts in which Schlig had access, along with thousands of documents which needed to be reviewed covering a period of over five years.,” said Summers in a statement. “It is suspected that Schlig took in excess of $350,000 from district funds.”

Summers said Schlig was able to steal the cash under "an elaborate scheme to hide cash deposits, masking incoming cash with check deposits, and altering financial documents including ledgers and receipts,” according to a statement.

Glendora Unified Superintendent Robert Voors said the discovery of Schlig’s crimes was disappointing.

“We are saddened and deeply disappointed over the actions of this long-time employee,” Voors said.

“Every year, the school district is subject to state and federal audits, as well as an independent audit conducted by an external firm,” Voors continued. “We have always been found to have exemplary practices. Nevertheless we have reviewed our policies and practices and implemented improvements with the backing of accounting experts. We have implemented additional safeguards to ensure the security, transparency and accountability necessary to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.”

Glendora Police Chief Rob Castro said Glendora Unified was fully cooperative in the investigation.

“School district officials have contributed countless hours of assistance, producing supporting documents which included forensic audits that have helped investigators collect the evidence necessary to proceed with this case,” Castro said in a statement. “This case was a very complex investigation that required hundreds of investigative hours to reveal the sophisticated theft scheme perpetrated by the suspect over several years.”

The investigation included work by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit.

Schlig is expected to be arraigned Thursday at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles.  Schlig is currently being held on $140,000 bail at the Glendora Jail Facility.


A former Glendora Unified employee, who had worked at the district for 35 years in its finance department, is behind bars for misappropriating $350,000 of district funds, according to a report by The San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Cynthia Schlig, 57, of Upland, was charged with five felony counts of forgery, embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. She is being held in the Glendora Jail on $140,000 bail.

Glendora Police said the arrest was made after a 19-month investigation by Glendora Police, the school district and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit.

According to the district, Schlig’s crimes were committed over a number of years. Schlig resigned from her position as accounting specialist in the finance department immediately after being confronted with the discovery.

King's College tightlipped on embezzlement case in Pennsylvania

They told their insurance carrier it was a "crime," but King's College officials wouldn't say Tuesday whether they ever alerted law enforcement after discovering an employee allegedly embezzled more than $57,000

The college remained mum on the topic Tuesday, after The Citizens' Voice reported on a lawsuit describing the alleged theft, and declined to answer questions about whether it sought a criminal investigation.

"The college will have no further comment on the pending suit," King's College spokesman John McAndrew said in an email.

The insurance carrier, Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. of America, filed a lawsuit last week claiming former King's College Human Resources Director Erin A. Savitski embezzled $57,399 by routinely adding extra cash to her paychecks and taking other unauthorized disbursements from college coffers.

The college fired Savitski, of Jackson Township, on Aug. 29, 2011, days after officials uncovered the fraud scheme, according to the lawsuit. The suit demands Savitski repay $52,399 to the insurance company for covering the college's losses and reimburse King's College for a $5,000 deductible it paid. College officials listed "crime" as the reason for submitting the insurance claim, according to a copy of the claim included with the lawsuit as an exhibit.

No charges have been filed.

The Luzerne County District Attorney's Office, the chief prosecuting agency in the county, confirmed Tuesday it had not received any reports about the alleged theft.

Officials with Wilkes-Barre police, the state police and state attorney general's office said they were checking to see if the alleged theft was ever reported to their respective agencies. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania declined comment.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Judge orders woman to repay stolen Atwater High band cash in California

A woman accused of embezzling close to $9,500 from the Atwater High School Falcon Band Boosters will be forced to pay it all back, a Merced County judge ruled on Monday.

Cindy Hopkins, 38, admitted to taking the money when she served as the booster club's treasurer in 2011. Atwater High School band students raised the money through fund-raisers such as selling pizza and candy, according to band director Norm Caulkins.

Hopkins sat quietly in court Monday at her restitution hearing, as three witnesses detailed how they noticed discrepancies in the booster's funds.

David Lewandowski, who served as the booster club's president at the time, said he was tipped off something was wrong when he got a phone call in May 2011 from the bank.

A $1,300 check the booster club had made for uniform cleaning had bounced. "I was like, 'no way, we have 10 grand in the account,'" Lewandowski said. "For the check to bounce seemed odd. It took the wind out of me."

Lewandowski called a meeting with other booster club members and they began investigating the group's financial statements. "What we discovered was the deposits weren't being made," Lewandowski said. "We would see small deposits — it was the checks being deposited, but the cash wasn't."

Read more here:

The booster club members called Richard St. Marie, a brother of one of the members who is the Merced County Sheriff Department's director of administrative services.

St. Marie analyzed the groups's financial documents for the year, including bank statements, copies of checks, envelopes containing donation amounts and receipts for each donation.

"I went back and tried to figure out where there was a discrepancy," St. Marie testified Monday. "Halfway through the year, I noticed there was no cash deposits. I saw over a period of time, checks were being deposited, but no cash."

It was determined that Hopkins embezzled $9,449.56, which Judge Ronald Hansen ordered her to pay back by June 3, 2014 — one year from the day she entered her no contest plea.

Hopkins had very little comment following the judge's ruling Monday, other than to express her remorse. "I do feel bad about the whole situation," Hopkins said. "It's not like I don't have any remorse at all. I feel bad for the students."

Hopkins, who has a 17-year-old son in the school's band, would not elaborate on why she took the money.

John Garcia, the Merced attorney representing Hopkins, said his client will take full responsibility for paying back the money.

"I don't have any doubt she'll do that," Garcia said. "I'm not at leisure to say what motivated my client, but I do feel her remorse from the beginning."

The booster members celebrated the decision Monday, but said Hopkins should have to serve jail time for the crime.

"I don't think it's enough. I think when you steal from kids or hurt kids, it's never enough," said Mariza Ponce, vice president of fund raising. "With this situation, she is paying back the money, but I'd like to see some jail time and a written letter of apology to the students."

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Serratto called the judge's ruling "the right decision," but supported some jail time as part of Hopkins' sentencing.

"It's been a long road for the band boosters, and they had to make changes and sacrifice," Serratto said. "You take that amount of money from a group that's vulnerable, and it affects kids' lives and education."

Serratto said the judge will decide whether jail time or community service is necessary at the June 2014 sentencing hearing. Depending on how much money she's paid back, the judge could reduce Hopkins' original charge of felony embezzlement to a misdemeanor.

School's PTO treasurer charged in embezzlement in Michigan

The treasurer of an East China School District parent teacher organization is facing a charge of stealing from the group.

Jennifer Alloy, 33, of Marine City, was charged with embezzlement of more than $1,000, but less than $20,000 from a nonprofit organization.

Alloy began as the treasurer of the Belle River Elementary PTO in June 2012.

She was arraigned on the charge Aug. 14 in district court. Alloy posted the $2,000 bond Aug. 15. A preliminary examination is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 28 in front of District Judge Michael Hulewicz.

Alloy declined to comment Monday.

Nicole Hart, the PTO’s former president, said the organization became suspicious after money went missing after a fundraiser in February, Hart said.

Marine City Police Chief Don Tillery said his department conducted the investigation in cooperation with the East China School District.

Money the PTO raised was used to pay for transportation for school field trips and for the Scholastic News teachers used in the classrooms.

“We’re just hoping it doesn’t reflect too badly on us where people are going to say, ‘We’re not going to give anymore,’ It’s terrible for the kids,” Hart said.

East China School District Superintendent Steven Skalka said the district values its partnerships with PTO and booster organizations.

“They do a great deal of good work on behalf of the students and athletes, and should not be judged by the alleged inappropriate activities of any single individual,” he said. “As we go into a new school year, we again look forward to working with our entire community in the service of our students.
The Parent Teacher Organization at Belle River Elementary School in Marine City discovered this summer that funds meant for students were being pilfered by someone else.

That person is alleged to be the PTO Treasurer Jennifer Alloy of Marine City; she was arrested Aug. 14 by Marine City police. She was arraigned and had a preliminary exam before Judge Michael Hulewicz in Marine City District Court. Alloy is charged with embezzlement under $20,000. Alloy's next court date will be Aug. 28 in front of Hulewicz.

PTO President Kelly Vogler said when they first found out about the stolen money they were taken totally by surprise.

"It was quite a shock," she said. "We never thought we would ever be going through this. We all have gone through the gamut of emotions. Now, we are trying to keep positive and take the high road."

Marine City Police Chief Don Tillery said he couldn't comment on the arrest while it was still in court. Alloy was appointed defense attorney Randolph Martinek, Jr. and Senior Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mary Kelly is prosecutor.

Belle River parent Nicole Hart said the amount was very close to $20,000 and possibly more. Hart said Alloy paid back $3,000 of it so the charges would be for under $20,000.

Hart said she believes Alloy began stealing from the fund "right when she took office before school even started on July 2012."

The offense involves writing phony checks, she said.

Carrie Devries, vice president of the PTO, said the amount of support the parents have given them is very encouraging during this time.

"We are trying to keep a positive spin on it and re-build," she said.

Vogler said they have instituted tighter measures in their accounting. They already had the two signature rule on checks when Alloy was in office, but now it will take three signatures on checks and they will be working directly with the Belle River Elementary office.

"We will have eyes on everything going in and going out," she said. "We are looking at ways that this will never happen again."

They have several fundraisers coming up in the coming months, starting with a Mom-to-Mom Bake Sale on Sept. 14, a Road Rally at Anita's Riverfront Grille on Sept. 28 and their annual Fun Run for the kids Oct. 11. They will also sponsor a Spookfest for Halloween on Oct. 25 and plan a Ladies Night Out on Nov. 16.

The Marine City Booster Club, another service group that works outside of the school's leadership, had the same problem three years ago, when - as booster club treasurer - Carrie Rhodes was caught pulling money out of their account to deposit into her own purse, totaling $35,000. Barbara Haman, then the ECSD director of financing, had said after the incident, she shared district-approved procedures for handling cash and making disbursements with various service groups in the district.

Former North Canyon High School bookstore manager pleads guilty to embezzlement in Arizona

A former Paradise Valley Unified School District staff member has pleaded guilty to felony theft after an audit revealed she had taken nearly $73,000 from the school district.

An investigation by the Arizona Office of the Auditor General found that Beverly Hodges, a former North Canyon High School bookstore manager, embezzled $67,162 by taking cash from the bookstore cash register from July 2007 to November 2009.

Throughout the school years, Hodges would hide her thefts by rekeying transactions into the cash register, then generating new, false cash-register tapes she used to prepare daily records — more than 300 falsified public documents in all, the report said.

In addition, the report said Hodges over the years told bookstore staff to withhold $5,349 worth of cash receipts from the deposit, which she used to buy food and beverages for herself and the staff.

The North Canyon bookstore processes extracurricular tax-credit donations and handles transactions for fees for items such as parking permits, athletic programs, replacement student ID cards and tests.

During this period, the report found, Hodges deposited more than $77,500 into her personal bank account, using the cash to pay for personal car and home-equity loans, retail purchases, groceries and restaurant meals.

The report also cited a former North Canyon principal and unidentified district officials, saying they “failed to exercise an appropriate level of oversight of Ms. Hodges’ activities. ... Moreover, district administrators allowed the NCHS bookstore to use an
outmoded cash-register system without ensuring that cash-handling, record keeping and depositing duties were
appropriately separated and adequate controls were in place.”

Before Hodges’ criminal activity was suspected or discovered, all schools in the district except North Canyon had stopped using cash registers, district spokeswoman Marty Macurak said.

“The software for a new transaction system was in place (at North Canyon) but not operating properly, so Hodges continued to use the cash register,” Macurak said.

In April 2010, Paradise Valley school officials asked the auditor general to investigate Hodges’ activity. By then, the district had already begun overhauling the way it oversaw record-keeping at its school bookstores.

As part of the overhaul, the district installed an updated student-payment system across its schools, allowing the district to monitor bookstore activity online. School principals received more training in cash-handling procedures.

Two district-level employees now oversee reconciliation between school cash receipts and accounting documents, and school bookstore workers and administrators discuss internal audit findings annually, Macurak said.

“The superintendent and cabinet are reviewing the report today, will discuss it in depth in the coming weeks and will adopt improvements beyond those already implemented as warranted,” she said.

On Friday, Hodges pleaded guilty to one felony count related to theft. As part of the plea agreement with the Attorney General’s Office, Hodges agreed to pay $72,511 in restitution to the Paradise Valley district.

Hodges started working in Paradise Valley schools in October 1985 and held various positions within the district until she was hired to work as the North Canyon bookstore clerk in 2003. Two years later, she was promoted to bookstore manager.

Hodges officially retired from the district in January 2009, but she continued to work as the bookstore manager under a third-party contract until Nov. 20, 2009, according to the auditor general’s report.

The report is the second strike this year against a former North Canyon staff member by the Auditor General’s Office.

In March, investigators found that Brian Dyer, a former North Canyon athletic director and math teacher, embezzled $10,578 by depositing school-related cash and checks into his personal bank account from December 2008 to May 2010.

Dyer was indicted on five felony counts related to theft, misuse of public money and fraudulent schemes.

Woman charged with embezzlement in Virginia

A Caroline County woman is charged with two counts of felony embezzlement after more than $7,000 was found missing from a school booster-club bank account.

Michelle S. Sullivan of Healy Street in Milford was arrested at her home late Friday night.

Sullivan had been the treasurer of the Caroline High School athletic and band booster clubs.

Caroline Sheriff Tony Lippa said an investigation started last week when a new treasurer took over the position and discovered there was only $14 in the bank.

“Approximately $7,000 is missing,” Lippa said, “maybe more.”

Lippa said the case is still under investigation.

Investigators Dean Cable and Scott Gershowitz worked with the commonwealth’s attorney to get a search warrant and to make the arrest.

Sullivan was transported to Pamunkey Regional Jail and was released on bond, which was posted by her husband, Lippa said.

She is scheduled to appear in Caroline General District Court on Aug. 30 for an arraignment.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Embezzlement charges after money goes missing from Boy Scout Troop in Wisconsin

A woman has been charged with embezzlement after allegedly stealing money from a local boy scout troop.

In January, the local troop's treasurer had asked for bank statements from Kathleen Potega, who had access to the accounts, because parents were asking about the troop's financial status. The treasurer found the account was overdrawn and numerous charges that she believed to be unauthorized, to places like Walmart and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Potega returned to the bank the day after she was questioned by the treasurer to dispute the charges, but the bank manager said Potega was "all over the place." A detective assigned to the case found still images of Potega making the purchases and she ultimately admitted to the crime.

According to the criminal complaint, Potega made 18 withdrawals from the ATM between July 2011 and Dec. 2012, worth $3,713. She also made 29 unauthorized purchases between July 2011 and Dec. 2012, worth $2,456.

Potega has been charged with Theft - Embezzlement and Fraud Against a Financial Institution. If convicted of both crimes, she could face up to 12 years in prison.

Ex-pastor receives suspended sentence for embezzlement in Conn.

The former executive pastor of Faith Church was given a five-year suspended sentence Thursday after acknowledging that he had embezzled more than $220,000 from a car wash owned by officials of the nondenominational megachurch.

Judge Susan Reynolds in state Superior Court in Danbury agreed to a plea deal reached by David Valentine with the State's Attorney's Office in June.

Valentine, 47, received a five-year suspended sentence and five years of probation on three charges of first-degree larceny. He must pay restitution of $93,651.28 in monthly installments and obtain counseling.

If two payments are missed, he will be found in violation of his parole. Valentine has already repaid nearly $130,000, according to court documents.

A call to Valentine's residence on Thursday was not returned.

The New Milford resident stole the money from Squeaky's Car Wash on Newtown Road in Danbury from December 2007 to June 2008.

The car wash was owned by Faith Church Pastor Frank Santora Jr.; his father, Frank Santora; Pastor Rick DuBois, who is the younger Santora's father-in-law; and two men who became silent partners after the business began experiencing financial problems.

The younger Santora was on vacation Thursday and unavailable for comment. Other members of the Faith Church clergy declined to comment on the case, citing a request by Santora.

Valentine never put any money into the car wash venture, but served as the operating partner. He embezzled the money by writing checks to fictitious contractors or builders who had not actually done any work at the car wash, endorsed the check himself and deposited the proceeds into his own account, according to Danbury police who investigated the case.

In other cases, he made out checks for more than the amount of work done and had the contractors kick back part of the money to him, according to investigators.

Valentine had previously sought accelerated rehabilitation on the charges, a disposition that, if granted, would have imposed a period of probation and cleared the arrest from his record. His attorney, public defender Mark Johnson, argued that a criminal conviction would have cost Valentine, a contractor who he said builds "high-end homes in Fairfield County," his state license and left him unable to repay his victims.

But prosecutors objected, and another Superior Court judge turned down the request earlier this year.

Pop Warner Embezzlement Suspect May Be Extradited Back to San Diego

An Escondido youth sports league is climbing back from near-bankruptcy after a parent volunteer allegedly embezzled upwards of $100,000 from the league.
Carrie Richardson – a parent and trusted volunteer treasurer – is accused of stealing thousands of funds from the Escondido Pop Warner league over several years, and then bolting to the east coast in 2011.
She was recently arrested in Maine, and now there’s a push to have her extradited back to San Diego to face charges.
The Escondido Pop Warner football league has been around for 45 years, a milestone worth celebrating given the alleged blindside hit they took from their former treasurer.
On the field with the Escondido Wolf Park, accountability and team work take precedence.
I think it’s great here,” said Escondido Pop Warner president Frank Jungman. “To think that someone would steal from these children, I think it’s really sickening.”
It’s off the field where a financial loss still stings.
Pop Warner league parents say Richardson was a trusted part of the team for years, and the embezzlement allegations shook the team to its core.
“Our parents lost faith in our board, in our league,” parent Burnadine Nolan told NBC 7.
Following the embezzlement allegations, plans for a huge equipment shed for the team were scrapped as the league began the 2012 season in a $10,000 hole.
It didn’t end there. Participation then dropped from 600 to 300.
“I feel sad for her son. I feel sad for her that she did this. But I’m relieved [that she was caught and arrested],” said Nolan.
Richardson was recently arrested in Maine, accused of similar crimes there.
But back here in San Diego – where there is a warrant for Richardson’s arrest – questions still linger about whether or not she’ll ever face punishment for her alleged crime.
“This city and this county can’t afford to extradite her. There’s just no money left in our budgets from the cutting that’s gone on,” said Jungman.
The league president says police are working on extraditing Richardson from Maine to San Diego.
In the meantime, he’s working on building the league’s bottom line and reputation.
He says he has learned some important lessons on who to trust from this ordeal.
“You make sure, absolutely, you have two signers on the account. Your treasurer should never have access to the money, and you should see the bank statement at every meeting,” said Jungman.
Police say these types of crimes happen more often than most people think.
It’s a hard lesson learned from the sidelines, one this league won’t soon forget.
If police are able to bring Richardson back to the North County, the league would still need help pursuing a civil suit.
They’re looking for donations and legal assistance, should they get their day in court.

Two now face trial in PTA thievery in Michigan

Andrea Dress, vice president of the Grand Haven school's PTA, said they are trying get the momentum going again even as they wait for the embezzlement case to make its way through the courts.

Police arrested former Ferry PTA treasurer Melissa Moore, 29, in early July on a charge of embezzlement of between $1,000 and $20,000. Moore's husband, Adam Youngs, 31, was also arrested last month on the same charge.

The couple posted bond after being arraigned in Ottawa County District Court.

Moore is scheduled for a final pre-trial conference on Monday. At that time, she could decide to enter a plea in the case, or go ahead with her trial that is set to begin Sept. 4.

Youngs is set to have a final pre-trial conference on Sept. 23. His trial is scheduled for Oct. 1.

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

Police were alerted to the possible crime in May when other PTA officers discovered discrepancies in the organization's savings and checking accounts. Police and Dress declined to say how much money was missing.

Dress did say at the time that there were enough funds to pay for end-of-the-school-year activities the PTA was hosting.

Prior to school starting next month, the Ferry Elementary School PTA is hosting a clothing swap for school kids on Aug. 21. Anyone wanting to donate gently used clothes for the event may drop them off at the school office on Monday and Tuesday between noon and 3 p.m.

The Ferry PTA is also hosting a Back to School Night on Aug. 28. An invitation-only dinner for parents of kindergarteners and students new to the school will take place prior to that event, Dress said.

Dress said support from the community has been mixed, but support from the Ferry staff has been great.

“It would be nice to get this over,” she said. “It’s taken a toll on us.”

Dress said PTA officials will pursue getting the stolen money back.

“We’ll have to see what plays out," she said.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Trenton, Michigan Assistant Principal Waives Preliminary Hearing in Embezzlement Case

An assistant principal at Trenton Public Schools charged with embezzlement waived his preliminary hearing Tuesday.

Bret Woodely, 40, of Taylor, was charged with felony embezzlement on Aug. 2 after authorities said he took between $1,000 and $20,000 from the City of Trenton, while working as a part-time seasonal employee at the Trenton Aquatic Center.
Woodley was bound over to Wayne County Circuit Court for an arraignment on the information at 9 a.m. Aug. 27 at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit.

An attorney working on behalf of Woodley's attorney, Leon Weiss of the Fieger Law firm, waived the scheduled preliminary examination of the evidence against Woodley in a meeting before Woodley or his acting attorney, Vincent Haisha, entered the courtroom.

A representative of the Fieger Law firm said Tuesday morning Weiss will be out of town for two weeks. She denied comment as to whether Weiss would be back in time for the scheduled hearing.

Woodley and Haisha denied comment outside the courthouse.

Woodley, who is also the district athletic director, remains an employee of both the City of Trenton and the Trenton Public School District. He was placed on administrative leave from both positions following the announcement of the charges.

Superintendent Rod Wakeham said he will continue to work with the City of Trenton and the Trenton Police Department during the ongoing investigation.

"If there's anything they need, we are willing to help," Wakeham said.

Former cafeteria manager at Mountain Mission School in Grundy faces embezzlement charges in Virginia

 A former cafeteria manager has been charged with embezzling more than $50,000 from a local private school for at-risk youth.

Mary Repult Stacy, age unavailable, of Breaks, Va., is facing 12 counts of embezzling funds from the Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Va., according to Buchanan County Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Arrington. Stacy was previously employed as the manager of the school’s cafeteria, he said.

Arrington said it is believed Stacy took more than $50,000 from the school.

“She was in charge of purchasing for the school’s cafeteria,” Arrington said. “She would use school funds to reload pre-paid debit cards or purchase gift cards she would then take for her personal use,” Arrington said.

Arrington said the embezzlement charges date between Dec. 1, 2010 and Dec. 6, 2012. Arrington said the Virginia State Police are in charge of the ongoing investigation into the embezzled funds.

“It was brought to my attention by the Virginia State Police,” he said. “I don’t know for sure, but I believe it was someone within the school who alerted them. There is still an ongoing investigation into this matter. She is the only person who has been charged so far.”

Arrington said Stacy is currently out on bond and will go for her preliminary hearing in the fall.

“A lot of kids from larger cities and impoverished families go to this school for a better education and better life,” Arrington said. “It is unfortunate that something like this has happened.”

The Mountain Mission School is a private, Christian pre-kindergarten through high school academy that houses 200 to 230 students in Buchanan County. The school often caters to neglected, abused or impoverished youth. The school was originally founded as Grundy Academy in 1921.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

63 cents trips up confessed embezzler suspect at VCU

Sixty-three cents in interest left in an investment account reportedly incriminated a Venice retiree and former dental school professor who now faces up to 20 years in prison for felony embezzlement.

Authorities in Sarasota County arrested James Edward Hardigan, 69, of the 100 block of Torcello Court, on a warrant from Richmond, Va., in January.

Hardigan pleaded guilty in May and is scheduled back in Richmond Circuit Court on Sept. 24.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Hardigan became a professor at the School of Dentistry at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1975. In 1980, he became association dean for administrative affairs for the VCU Dental Faculty Practice Association.

In 1995, Hardigan reportedly opened an investment account under the faculty association's name and with $500,000 of the association's money.

Prosecutors claim that, when he retired in 2004, Hardigan moved $137,553 that remained in the association's account to a personal account. They say 63 cents in interest later accrued in the association's account. That eventually prompted the investment firm that still had the account to notify the association, which did not know the account existed.

An audit then turned into a police investigation, which led to Hardigan's indictment by a grand jury in January.

Hardigan reportedly still had the $137,553 and agreed to pay it back.

Yet prosecutors told the Times-Dispatch that it is unclear what happened to the rest of the money that had been in the account.

According to Sarasota County property records, in 2004, Hardigan bought a newly constructed home in Venetian Golf & River Club for $639,000.

Dublin, Ohio School Volunteer Accused of Embezzlement Pleads 'Not Guilty'

Dublin resident Jaylene Leslie was arraigned today at the Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice on charges of embezzlement and grand theft. Leslie is accused of embezzling more than $38,000 from the Parent Faculty Club at Dougherty Elementary School.

Leslie is a former board member for Dublin Partnerships in Education and former President of the Dougherty Elementary Parent Faculty Club, who had been recognized by the Dublin School Board for her volunteer work in May 2011 just two months before the embezzlement began.

Leslie is due back at the Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice in Pleasanton on Sept. 25. at 9 a.m.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pastor, two others charged with embezzlement at church in North Carolina

A Rockingham County grand jury indicted three people, including a former pastor of Goodwill Baptist Church in Madison, on charges they embezzled funds from the church.
John Albert Jackson Sr., 63 of 5335 Lewey Lane in Winston-Salem, resigned in 2011, after members of the church, located at 1036 K-Fork Rd., in Madison, allegedly confronted him about missing funds. Members then notified the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office about the missing funds, said deputy Kevin Suthard.
They determined that the church had allegedly lost $66,567 during the pastor’s 19-year tenure there.
The grand jury on Monday handed up nine felony counts of embezzlement of funds, 12 counts of malfeasance of corporation officers and agents, four counts of obtaining property by false pretense and conspiracy to commit a felony against Jackson.
The grand jury also handed up indictments against Jackson’s son, John Albert Jackson Jr., 38, of 213 Oakmont Park Dr., in Kernersville, and Treva Toshanda Tatum Moore, 37, of 928 Fern St., in Madison.
The father and son turned themselves in Thursday. Jackson Sr. posted a $10,000 bond and was released.
Jackson Jr. was charged with felony embezzlement of funds, conspiracy to commit a felony and malfeasance of corporation officers and agents.
Jackson Jr. posted a $7,500 bond and was released.
Moore, who was charged with nine counts of felony embezzlement, malfeasance of corporation officers and agents and conspiracy to commit a felony, turned herself in today. She posted a $40,000 bond and was released.
Jackson Sr. is now the pastor at Grace Fellowship Church, 4015 Brownsboro Road, in Winston-Salem.

Lutherans Say They Were Bamboozled in Las Vegas

A Lutheran church sued its treasurer, claiming he embezzled $1.1 million - some of which he spent to buy land from a distant monastery.
     Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, of Las Vegas, sued Gregory R. Olson and Wells Fargo Bank, in Clark County Court.
     The church claims it hired Olson as its treasurer in May 2005, and he was embezzling before he'd been there a year.
     "From January 3, 2006 to September 18, 2009, defendant Olson without plaintiff Lutheran Church's approval, drew several checks from the account of plaintiff Lutheran Church in the amount of $1,123,279.84 for his own personal use," the complaint states.
     The church claims Olson took out five mortgages against church property without its permission and without notifying it.
     It claims that Olson was involved in a lawsuit about a property he had defaulted on, and he used some of the embezzled money to pay his legal expenses. He also bought a 2.5-acre parcel of land and told Amazing Grace he used his own money, according to the complaint.
     The church claims it lost title to its property through foreclosure, thanks to Olson's embezzlement.
     To top it off, Olson bought land from a monastery with the stolen money, according to the complaint.
     "On or about June 25, 2009, defendant Olson purchased, without plaintiff Lutheran Church's approval, and in plaintiff Lutheran Church's name, a parcel of land from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery in Carmel, CA. He then proceeded to take out a mortgage on this property. He also convinced the monastery to subordinate a second mortgage to him in the amount of $370,000.00. He used the funds from this second mortgage to pay off the first and second mortgages on the monastery parcel for approximately one year. Defendant Olson's intention was to hold onto the property for a year and then resell it so that he could recoup the losses plaintiff Lutheran Church had incurred because of the above transactions in the Bruce Street property [in Las Vegas]."
     The church found out about the embezzlement in September 2009 and fired him, according to the complaint.
     It seeks damages for breach of contract and breach of faith, against Olson and the bank.
     It is represented by Robert J. Flummerfelt with Canon Law Services of Las Vegas.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Embezzlement case involving Blissfield Athletic Boosters delayed again

 A hearing in an embezzlement case involving the Blissfield Athletic Boosters was delayed Wednesday in Lenawee County Circuit Court. An attorney for former booster treasurer Tara Lynn Rohlan, 44, of Blissfield asked for an adjournment to Oct. 2 to resolve the amount of restitution to be paid.
Attorney David Stimpson of Tecumseh said his client has admitted taking club funds over a five-year period starting in 2008. Rohlan posted a $15,187 restitution payment in June when she waived a preliminary examination in district court. A disagreement later developed over the total amount owed to the boosters. She is charged with embezzlement $20,000-$50,000.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rialto, California Unified accountant arrested for suspected embezzlement

Police arrested a Rialto Unified School District accountant on suspicion of embezzling thousands of dollars in cash over the last two months.

Judy Oakes, 48, of San Bernardino, was arrested at the district's nutrition services offices at 151 S. Cactus Ave. Wednesday afternoon and booked into the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of burglary, embezzlement and grand theft. She was held in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to Rialto police Capt. Randy DeAnda.

Oakes was in the process of bailing out this afternoon, said sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman.

At the time of Oakes' arrest, police found a large amount of cash on her person. During a search of her home, more cash and evidence was found, DeAnda said, declining to elaborate further.

"We suspect this has been occurring since June" 2013, DeAnda said. He said school district staff notified police of Oakes after a banking discrepancy was discovered. He said a forensic audit will be conducted to determine if the suspected embezzlement has been occurring longer.

Oakes, an accountant for the district's nutrition services department, has worked for the Rialto Unified School District since 1993, according to a seniority list of non-teaching employees posted on the district's website.

She is the widow of Jack Oakes, the late principal of Ramona-Allesandro Elementary School in San Bernardino.
Oakes "was immediately put on administrative leave," district spokeswoman Syeda Jafri said Thursday morning. "The district will work with the Rialto Police Department as they continue with this pending investigation. At this point, to make any further comment would be premature."

Police will submit their case to the District Attorney's Office Friday morning for consideration of the filing of criminal charges, DeAnda said.

"The district will not sit idly by," said school board vice-president Edgar Montes, "We will be sharing information with law enforcement officials, including the allegations that have been circulating that an alleged illicit relationship between high ranking employees enabled the alleged misconduct to occur. Furthermore, because the law enforcement investigation and allegations involve high ranking employees, we will be cooperating with and assisting law enforcement in any way we can. I have already requested the district take immediate action and also conduct its own internal review. If either the law enforcement investigation or the district's review reveals that any other district employee or administrator engaged in or facilitated any wrongdoing or illegal activity, we will support and pursue their prosecution to the fullest extent of the law and seek restitution where allowable."

Board president Joseph Ayala would not comment on Oakes' alleged romantic relationship with a senior staff member.

"Any time we have a pending investigation, the less said the better at the beginning," he said Thursday afternoon. "I am confident that the public agencies and the district will do the right thing."

Rialto Unified teaches approximately 26,408 students. The district has been strapped for cash in recent years, and gave pink slips to 124 non-teaching employees "" like Oakes "" in March of this year, and had previously notified 100 teachers their jobs might not be available in the 2013-2014 school year.

Oakes' arrest caps off a tough year for the district. In January, Henry Elementary School teacher Tim Braby made national news after the Sun published an audio recording of the third-grade teacher berating and insulting his students. Later that month, Eisenhower High coach Steve Johnson was shot at an inner-city park, and gave conflicting reports of what happened that night, according to Rialto Police. And in March, former Eisenhower High girls basketball coach Floyd Eddings, who hasn't worked for the district since 2004, was arrested on charges that he had sex with two underage team members.

Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact Detectives Mike Morales and Greg Marquez at 909-820-2550.

Former Belgrade, Montana School District clerk sentenced for embezzlement

A former clerk for the Belgrade School District was sentenced Wednesday for embezzling nearly $49,000 from the district over the course of a year and a half.
Della Little, 50, was sentenced to two years with the Montana Department of Corrections with a recommendation for incarceration, as well as eight years probation. Little was sentenced by Gallatin County District Court Judge John Brown.
Little was also ordered to pay $41,822 in restitution to the Belgrade School District, an amount that was agreed upon after several restitution hearings earlier this summer.
Prosecutors say that Little, while employed as an accounts payable and accounts receivable clerk, used a school district credit card that had been issued in her name to make cash advances. All told, Little stole $48,848.61 between May 2009 and September 2010.
“Ms. Little’s actions compromised the public’s trust in the school district in these difficult financial times,” Brown said during the sentencing hearing.
Brown also said Little’s theft forced the school district to put in additional safeguards that cost the district time and money.
“Ms. Little has called into question the honesty and competency of all the employees (of the district),” Brown said.
The Department of Corrections has a variety of options how to handle those sentenced to its control, from prison to probation, but the recommendation of the sentencing judge is typically a significant factor.
Little was charged with embezzlement in February 2012. She pleaded guilty to the charge earlier this year.
“These monies are dedicated to children and were intentionally taken from them,” Belgrade Schools Superintendent Candy Lubansky said during testimony. “Ms. Little took the money very intentionally over time and was found out, but may not have been and could have kept going. And that’s pretty frustrating.”
Lubansky said the district has had to change policies and practices in how it monitors employees.
District Clerk Jay Bates said district employees felt like they were under suspicion for crimes they didn’t commit.
“It’s just been terrible, really,” Bates said. “People just don’t trust the administration office.”
Defense attorney Suzanne Marshall noted that Little had no prior criminal history and has complied with all court orders since being charged.
“She has tried to turn her life around, take responsibility,” Marshall said.
Marshall requested an entirely suspended sentence, saying probation conditions would be sufficient punishment for Little, who has shown remorse for her actions.
“(Little) found herself in a dire financial situation and made very, very poor choices,” Marshall said.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

CORONA: Church bookkeeper gets 3 years for embezzlement in California

A Corona woman has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $200,000 from her church and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Gigi Lynnette Wellott, 48, pleaded guilty Tuesday, July 30, to three counts of grand theft from 2006 to 2010 when she was treasurer for the Corona United Methodist Church. She was ordered to pay back $200,991 in restitution to the church.
The church first reported Wellott to Corona police in September 2010. She turned herself into police in December 2011 and was free on bail until Tuesday.
Wellott reported to the church finance committee and was responsible for approving and paying church bills. She controlled a checkbook for the church, which needed two signatures, according to court records. She was a part-time employee receiving an annual salary of $9,269.
Police said she obtained the second signatures by claiming the checks were for official church business.
The church ordered an audit of financial records in April 2010 after a shortfall in church finances and missing funds. At the time, Wellott was not suspected of any wrongdoing, according to a sworn affidavit in support of an arrest warrant.
The audit showed several payments to Wellott’s company, Aarow Business Consultants. When Wellott was questioned by the audit committee, the case was turned over to Corona police.
Search warrants on Wellott’s personal and business bank accounts showed multiple thefts from the church bank account, according to the affidavit. Police said Wellott paid her electric bill with church funds over four years, totaling $11,977.
Financial records also showed Wellott wrote more than 200 illegal checks from the church’s account from 2003 to 2010 to herself and her business, totaling $222,752.
She also used church funds to buy AT&T check cards, totaling nearly $7,000.
In addition to the three felony charges, she pleaded to guilty two enhancements of a white collar crime exceeding $100,000 and destruction of property.

Treasurer of band booster club faces embezzlement in Mississippi

A trip to Disney has been put in jeopardy after $12,000 of the Bay High Tiger band's money went missing.

On Wednesday, the treasurer for the Bay High Tiger Pride Marching Band Booster Club was charged with embezzlement.

Bay St. Louis Police Chief Mike DeNardo, 41-year-old Kimberly Luxich's arrest stems from a report from a booster club member, who told police something suspicious was happening to the band's money.

The Bay St. Louis woman allegedly stole $12,000 over the past several months, Bay St. Louis police said.

According to police, band members raised the money over the summer through bake sales, collecting money from motorists, candy bar sales and car washes. The money was going to be used for two charter buses to go to Disney.

Luxich made her initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon. Bond has not been set at this time.

Two Florida teachers union officials are accused of embezzling about $50,000

 Two Florida teachers union officials are accused of embezzling about $50,000 from the United Teachers of Suwannee County.

Police believe union treasurer Roshonda Herring, 38, illegally wrote 109 checks totaling $38,000 to herself, and about $12,000 in checks to former union president Sheryl Daniels, 56, between January 2008 and May 2013, WDCTV6 reports.

The women turned themselves in to the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office Friday, according to the news report.

“It’s taking away from our children and it’s just not good,” parent Tonya Poulton told the television station.

We agree. It’s not good, and these women should be held accountable for their misdeeds, if they are convicted in a court of law. The worst part, however, is that they are teachers as well as union leaders, which means they are undoubtedly role models for many children.

What a horrible example to set for students.

The alleged embezzlement comes on the heels of several similar stories that were reported around the nation in recent weeks. Financial corruption is starting to appear to be a common problem for teachers unions.

These stories illustrate how the union power structure breeds corruption. Union officials typically face little scrutiny from their members regarding the use of union funds. There also seems to be a lack of internal accounting procedures. That certainly seems to be the case in Suwanne County, where the alleged thefts went on for more than five years without anyone noticing.

Teachers union members should demand better. They should demand that their leaders implement a more transparent financial system, and demand they conduct themselves like professional educators instead of two-bit thieves.