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White-Collar Crime Watch: Polygamists, Fixed Tennis Matches, An Unfunny Accountant

Recently, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese claimed that it switched the ingredients in our beloved cheese packets to more natural, healthy options WITHOUT OUR NOTICE. As a woman of taste with a sensitive and discerning pallet who pretty much subsisted on a steady diet of mac and cheese through childhood and well into college, I definitely noticed the change. I haven't managed to choke down a box of that stuff in months.

I liken Kraft's sneaky ingredient swap to white collar crime. Sometimes you'll get away with swapping my delicious Yellow #5 with tumeric – afterall, some of the diners didn't notice –  but eventually, for better or for worse, an auditor will catch you.

Accountant Charged in Polygamous Sect Food Stamp Fraud Case
Nephi Steed Allred, an accountant who allegedly helped that radical polygamous sect launder more than $12 million in fraudulent food stamps faces up to twenty years in prison.

The scheme had “Followers […] scan their food stamp debit cards at church-run stores, leaving the money with the owners […] Group leaders then funneled money to front companies,” which Allred helped set up. “Some of those funds were used to pay thousands for a tractor and a truck.”

I don't know much about food stamps, but this sounds illegal. Also, discretion is not the group's strong suit; the volume of fraudulent food stamps running through those two tiny sect-owned shops rivaled a Walmart or a CostCo's legal food stamp redemption. That's what we call "egregious."

The food stamp fraud wasn't the sect's first run-in with the law. Interestingly enough, the leader of this particular polygamist sect is none other than Warren Jeffs, who's “been in a Texas prison for years, serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting two young girls he considered brides.” Dateline did a story awhile ago about Rebecca Musser, one of this sect's members who was forced into polygamous marriage but who later escaped. According to former sect members, Jeffs still controls the sect from prison via letters and phone calls. Although two of Jeffs' brothers have been charged in the food stamp ring, Warren Jeffs himself has not been charged.

Accountant Confesses Involvement in International Tennis Fixing Scheme
Speaking of family rings, my Russian mother-in-law runs a tennis gambling bracket out of her kitchen during major tennis tournaments. I recently won 3,300 Rubles (approximately $50 USD) and a chicken noodle soup recipe after my bracket dominated during the US Open.  So as a family, we're quite familiar with tennis betting. However, my Russian mother-in-law's kitchen table gambling bracket does not compare with Italian accountant and gambler Manlio Bruni; the leader of a gambling syndicate has confessed to “conspiracy to commit sport fraud.” Bruni confessed to conspiring to bribe tennis professionals to throw matches. “They are also seeking to indict his friend and fellow Italian player Starace and three other gamblers.”

It ain't easy being a tennis pro. Even though the top players make millions, the mediocre players don't make much money, and they have to pay all their own travel and training expenses. “Prize money at lesser tournaments can be paltry, and a year on the tennis tour can set a player back more than £100,000. To someone at that level, a fixing fee could be worth far more than a win.”


Over the four years from 2007 to 2011, the files show, the gambling ring discussed manipulating the betting on 37 players including eight Italians. The discussions were generally vague and used coded language – with instructions to give a player "80 oranges" if he "brings home the first basket", for example, which Bruni later told police had meant €80,000 if he won first set before tanking. And, when the topic got too hot to handle on Skype, the burner phones would come into use.

Bruni has also confessed to fixing football matches for the benefit of his gambling syndicate as well. Like I said, my Russian mother-in-law's tennis gambling ring is no match for that high-stakes accountant.

Accountant Makes Joke. Nobody Laughs.
Speaking of white-collar criminals, I've always wanted to be at work when the place gets raided. I picture SWAT teams clearing corners, Sgt. Olivia Benson squawking orders to Ice T into a walkie, and files getting carted out by the boxful. I'd help point the detectives to the proper filing cabinets, but mostly I'd stand around, sipping an ice cold Diet Coke, and slowly shaking my head. “She was so nice to work with – I had no idea she was siphoning money off the band boosters.”

Well, associates at the Edelbrock-Reitz accounting firm got to experience just that when their firm got raided last year “as part of an investigation into possible financial crimes.”

Jennifer Edelbrock, 49:

was sentenced to 40 days in jail last year in Putnam County for stealing $17,250 from the Kalida Band Boosters. She told the judge in that case she was hoping to make enough money preparing taxes to pay back the money before anyone saw it was missing but was caught before she could do so.

On Monday, Edelbrock was back in court on grand theft charges. She plead guilty to stealing another $20,000 from the Spencerville Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

When Judge Jeffrey Reed asked Edelbrock her age, she responded, "Can I say 27?"

The judge didn’t respond. She then answered with her correct age.

According to the article, Edelbrock “only made the one joke that didn’t gather any laughter.”