A lot of work goes into building a championship baseball team. Good pitching, solid defense and, contrary to some people’s opinion, pinstripes seem to help. What many people easily forget is that there is more to it than just talent on the field. There’s the business aspect of baseball that is essential to every successful team. You can’t just throw a bunch of money around and hope for the best, Steinbrenners. There has to be a plan. The San Francisco Giants, the reigning champs, are one of those teams. Unfortunately for the Giants, they are not impervious to bad luck. Case in point – Robin O’Connor, a former payroll manager for the team, has recently been accused of embezzling more than $1.5 million from the organization. The team was not aware that this misappropriation was happening until someone at Bank of America (Yes.) rang them up with news of a letter they received from Ms. O’Connor, who had recently applied for a home loan and had written a letter explaining two very large deposits into her bank account. Apparently, someone at BofA found the following a little bit out of the ordinary:
“Because of her outstanding contributions to our Major League Baseball team and front office during the 2010 season that assisted us in accomplishing our goal of winning the 2010 World Series, she was given two additional payments of compensation in May 2011,” the letter, quoted in the affidavit, states.
Yes, the correct calculation of federal, state, social security, medicare and other miscellaneous deductions were of such magnitude that it warranted not one but TWO bonuses for Ms. O’Connor. Because if no one gets paid, no one is happy. And unhappy players don’t perform.
We’re a few days late to this story so save the indignation, it’s still worth mentioning.
Sister Marie E. Thornton (aka Sister Susie) was doing the Lord’s work as the CFO at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY and it appears that she was embezzling around $80k a year for nearly 10 years to fund a wee bit of a gambling problem. She surrendered to authorities last week over said embezzlement of ‘more than $850,000,’ according to Talk of the Sound, a New Rochelle blog, that quotes a DOJ press release.
The school fired Sister Suz last year, along with another employee, in relation to the embezzlement and the DOJ got around to charging her last week.
The story got picked up by several outlets, including Fox News who reported that Sister Suz had been blowing the money on trips to Atlantic City:
As chief financial officer at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. from 1999 to 2009, Sister Marie Thornton, 62, bet her six-figure income and school money away during frequent trips to Atlantic City, federal prosecutors said.
Thornton was arrested Thursday and pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan. She was released without posting bail. Sources confirmed to MyFoxNY that a former Iona basketball coach has said that Sister Marie definitely had a gambling problem.
Now why the former coach, Jeff Ruland (who was fired from his job, according to the Post), felt obligated to dish on the gambling issue is not clear, although it does provide a motive for Sister Susie’s (alleged!) stealing, which would have probably come out of the investigation. Odd revenge theories aside, the good news is that Sister Suz had seen the error of her ways and has been “cloistered at the Sisters for St. Joseph Order, near Philadelphia,” according to the Fox News report.
However, that is a lot closer to AC, so maybe we’re jumping the gun on repentance.
BREAKING: Sister Susie Arrested, U.S. Attorney Charges Former Iona College VP of Finance in $1.2 Million Embezzlement [Talk of the Sound]
Nun Accused of Embezzling $850,000 From College, Then Gambling It Away in Atlantic City [Fox News]
Nun charged with embezzling $1.2M from Iona [NYP]
If you work for a partner who likes shamelessly showing off their money, it’s likely that you will think to yourself one of two things: 1) “What a flashy douchebag.” OR 2) “How do I get to be that flashy douchebag?”
For Lily Aspillera, her thinking was more along the lines of the latter, as she made off with $1.7 million from 2002 to 2008 by writing checks to herself that drew on an account of an E&Y client. She used the cash to buy your run-of-the-mill embezzler items: German cars, jewels, vacations, a nice home, etc.
An executive assistant at the giant accounting firm Ernst & Young has been sentenced to more than two years in federal prison for a $1.7 million embezzlement scheme that helped finance a posh San Francisco home, two BMWs, jewelry and stays at luxury resorts, authorities said Wednesday.
Lily Aspillera, 65, of San Francisco was ordered Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to serve 30 months behind bars for mail fraud and tax evasion.
Impressive. Not necessarily by Sue Sachdeva’s standards but impressive nonetheless. However, Lil’s little scam only last a measly 6 years compared to Sachdeva’s twelve year scam because yes, her own greed got the best of her:
“Like so many who commit fraud, over time she increased the amount of money she embezzled, apparently emboldened by not getting caught,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Sprague wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Defense attorney Donald Bergerson wrote in court papers that his client “has been punished by her own conscience as much as she can be punished by any term of imprisonment.”
The personal guilt over getting caught – after managing to steal money for only six years – would be pretty overwhelming.
Regardless of how easy it is for accountants to steal money (access, signatory responsibilities and such) one would think that if you intended on getting away with it that you might go to a wee bit of trouble to cover your tracks. Shamelessly making photocopies for personal matters is one thing, cutting checks to yourself are entirely another:
Between October 2, 2003 and September 20, 2007, [Todd Newman], a Certified Public Accountant with offices in Yonkers and New York City, was the Secretary/Treasurer and a signatory on the payroll of B. Schoenberg and Company, a recycler of plastics and engineering resins located in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
He stole in excess of $1,900,000.00 (1.9 million dollars) from his employer by writing checks to himself.
Newman also failed to file Personal Income Tax returns with the State of New York for the years 2005, 2006 and 2007, for a total tax liability of $133,158.
Christ man! Set up a phony LLC, open some bank accounts, get a P.O. Box. Something.
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What is in the water up in America’s Dairyland? We’ve been going on and on about the internal control failures at Koss in Milwaukee but now there’s more of it at a non-profit organization just up the road. Let’s hope everyone at UW Madison is taking notes.
The latest tale of non-profit fraud stars 56 year-old Leonard V. Lauth of Beaver Dam.
Wings Over Wisconsin bills itself as a conservation organization dedicated to natural resource preservation and education through youth and community involvement. Spelling errors and obvious lack of updates since 2006 on its website aside, WOW manages nearly 1,300 acres of land and provides mostly young hunter education to the future gun-toting blue-stater babes in Wisconsin.
While it prides preservation of Wisconsin’s precious wetlands, internal controls do not appear to be high on WOW’s priority list. Hopefully this changes that.
It’s a textbook fraud case, starting with the mounting medical bills and the poor internal controls that allowed its Treasurer to lift $16,875 since 2005. Lauth’s advanced methods of fraud include writing checks to himself labeled “office supplies” in the books and taking home banquet funds after the event insisting he’d deposit them at the bank in the morning.
While typically WOW practice to require two signatures, Lauth had been with the organization for 24 years, leaving the “trust” issue totally taken care of. Opportunity, motive, what else do we need?
Rationalization, of course! Lauth told Beaver Dam Police Lt. Joel Kiesow he thought he’d taken $788 from the organization in the four year period in which he executed his fraud. When informed it was more like $17,000, Lauth was shocked. I guess he didn’t realize how expensive “office supplies” can be these days.
“Maybe I was robbing Peter to pay Paul on different things,” said Lauth in regards to using WOW funds to pay off family medical bills. Actually, he was robbing the little Dustins and Bobbys with their baby shotguns and wildlife of Wisconsin who counted on the funds to which he so sloppily helped himself. Shame shame.
Let this be a lesson to all you non-profits: cash management and financial literacy (including fraud prevention measures) are not only best practices for public companies and private industry. If anything, non-profits need sharper internal controls – without shareholders to answer to, money can easily slip into the fraud vacuum undetected for years, as in the case of Mr Lauth and WOW.
Calls to WOW left after business hours were not returned.
Man accused of taking funds from non profit [Beaver Dam Daily Citizen]