I am not a bad person

Bonnie Brannock Davis was a longtime volunteer for the Giles County Lifesaving and Rescue Squad. She also had a good paying, $120k per year, job at The Chemical Lime Company in Ripplemead until she was laid off.

She just was sentenced to two months in jail for a $65k theft from the Giles County Lifesaving and Rescue Squad. She was facing up to 100 years. She had no previous criminal history and had volunteered decades as a medic for Giles County Lifesaving and Rescue Squad.

She apologized over and over to the Giles County Lifesaving and Rescue Squad, which she called “the love of my life,” and to her family and the community at large.

Davis repaid the $65k to the non-profit. She stated that she made “anonymous” donations to repay over time. Davis told investigators that she had tried to repay the rescue squad by making anonymous donations. That is what many embezzlers do not understand. It is easier to steal money but much harder to replace the stolen funds. They may have intentions to repay but the mechanics of it are much more difficult to do. However, she did make 2 payments before sentencing to cover the $65k theft.

There was no “extravagant” spending on Davis’ part according to her attorney. I’ve seen this before. They start stealing because of a pressure and it snowballs. In this case Davis was a lifetime member of the non-profit.

People like Davis don’t wake up in the morning and say they are going to steal but at some point something triggers it. In Davis’ case the loss of a good paying job was most likely the trigger.

Davis is on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/bonnie-davis-7b57b76 and from her information was a Deputy a long time ago. After she was let go it appears she started her own business which it seems did not replace her salary.

You just never know. Pay attention to your volunteers and their situations.

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Stealing from nuns for lingerie and leasing a sports car

An Orange County real estate consultant who stole $285,000 from Roman Catholic nuns and used it to buy lingerie and lease a sports car was convicted Tuesday of three counts of wire fraud.

After a three-day trial, a federal jury in Santa Ana convicted Linda Rose Gagnon, also known as Linda Gualtieri-Gagnon, 59, of defrauding the U.S. Province of the Religious of Jesus and Mary.

Asst. U.S. Atty. Robert Keenan said Gagnon told the nuns in 2008 that she was an expert in handling short-sale and foreclosure transactions and offered to help them buy a small home in San Diego they were renting for retired sisters in the religious order.

But Gagnon did not use the order’s funds to purchase the retirement home. Instead, she used it to buy lingerie, lease an Audi and pay off debts for her real estate finance company, Rose Enterprise, Inc. according to Keenan.

After only 64 days, Gagnon spent the entire sum — $285,000, he said.

“She paid off $42,000 she borrowed. There was $448 at Chadwick’s of London, an intimate apparel store in San Francisco. Then she went shopping at Nordstroms, visited the nail salon and of course a pet-sitting service…. She also leased an Audi TT sports car,” Keenan said. “She was living nicely on the nuns’ money.”

The nuns, after initially accepting Gagnon’s explanations for delays in the home purchase, realized they had been defrauded when she did not respond to their messages. The order specializes in charitable and educational work. 

At one point, Gagnon told the nuns she needed another $285,000 to buy the San Diego residence, saying the original $285,000 was tied up in a “triple escrow” on another property.

Throughout the trial, Gagnon’s lawyer portrayed her as operating a bad business and accidentally comingling the funds. Gagnon did not testify, but two Catholic priests took the witness stand to attest to her character, Keenan said. They assured the court “she is really quite honest,” he added.

At sentencing next February, Gagnon could receive up to 20 years in prison for each of the three counts. Keenan said a more realistic sentence would be about four years total.

Keenan said the nuns eventually had to come up with another $255,000 to buy the home, which is about three miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Lorena Varela, Oxnard, CA pleads guilty to $400k theft

From the Ventura County Star:

An Oxnard woman accused of stealing more than $400,000 from a nonprofit has been sentenced to four years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to forgery and other charges.

Prosecutors said Lorena Varela, 47, was initially charged with 18 counts of forgery, grand theft and computer fraud. In June, she pleaded guilty to six felony forgery counts and two special allegations related to money she embezzled from Arc of Ventura County, said Marc Leventhal, senior deputy district attorney.

Varela was a bookkeeper for the Ventura-based nonprofit, which serves residents with developmental disabilities, and was accused of stealing $427,000 from it.

Leventhal said Varela worked for the organization for 10 years and that the thefts occurred from April 2004 to September 2012. He said she falsified electronic ledgers to show money had been paid to vendors. Instead, Varela used a signature stamp of an authorized Arc signatory and signed checks to herself, Leventhal said.

“There was proof that during the 8½ years she was working there, there were 500 separate acts of theft,” Leventhal said. “(Varela) represented herself as someone who was loyal and gained their trust. She covered up her scheme and relied on her hope that no one would look at these canceled checks she made out to herself.”

Leventhal said Varela was caught after another employee noticed a discrepancy between checks and the ledger, which triggered an audit.

Varela was arrested June 11 and was free on $30,000 bail until Ventura County Superior Court Judge Kevin McGee sentenced her Wednesday. Although she was sentenced to four years and eight months, she could serve half the time and then be eligible for parole because her charges were nonviolent offenses, Leventhal said.

Varela also was ordered to pay restitution to Arc.

Ron Bamieh, who represented Varela, said she immediately admitted to the theft when confronted. Bamieh said she was “going through a life crisis” and trying to save her house and marriage.

“She immediately broke down … cried and admitted to what she did,” Bamieh said. “There is no excuse morally and ethically about what she did, but this also shows how lax they (Arc) were in their bookkeeping. This is a sad case all around.”

Calls to Arc administrators were not returned, but Patricia Schulz, Arc’s CEO, said in an email, “We’re glad to close the chapter on this and move forward to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the agency’s mission.”

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Former city of Cornelius employee Cynthia Rodriguez pleads guilty to theft of city funds

From Oregon Live:

Summary: A former city of Cornelius employee accused of taking cash from city funds has been convicted and sentenced in Washington County Circuit Court.


Cynthia Rodriguez.jpgView full sizeCynthia RodriguezWCSO

The case: The Washington County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation in May 2012 after someone in the city of Cornelius noticed $120 missing from the Municipal Court till. After audits, further investigation revealed a city accountant, Cynthia Rodriguez, 46, reportedly took cash from residents for their utility payments between January 2011 and June 2012. She wrote them receipts but voided the city’s copies, according to Sgt. Bob Ray, sheriff’s office spokesman. Rodriguez would then access the city’s computer system ahead of late notice mailings and change the residents’ addresses to her own home address, Ray said. Rodriguez would reportedly pay the bills, along with the $10 late fees, Ray said, and marked the bills paid in the system. Rodriguez was placed on leave in July 2012 and resigned the following month. She was arrested in March 2013 on accusations of first-degree official misconduct, first- and second-degree theft and felony computer crime.

Update: On Jan. 22, 2014, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to one count each of first-degree theft and first-degree official misconduct.

Sentence: Rodriguez was sentenced to two years of probation along with 134 hours of community service. Rodriguez was ordered to pay restitution of $8,834.30 to the city of Cornelius and to have no contact with the victim. Rodriguez will also undergo mental health evaluation and treatment.

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Non profit fraud Executive Director helped by twin brothers!

The former executive director of an East Orange-based non-profit developer of low-income housing was arrested today on charges she had embezzled more than $380,000 from the corporation, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement this evening.

Lancie Marchan, 64, who headed the East Orange Revitalization and Development Corporation, used the money for trips, hotel stays, visits to casinos and gifts, among other things, the statement said.

An indictment unsealed today alleges that Marchan, who was being paid an annual salary of $93,163.50, embezzled the money between 2005 and 2010.

At the time, EORDC was partnering with a private corporation to build a low-income development, called the Princeton Estates Phase II Project, with partial funding from HUD.

The indictment also alleges that Marchan’s twin 66-year-old brothers, Arthur Werts, of Chesterfield, Va., and Artemus Werts, of Plainfield – both of whom have experience in the financial and non-profit industries – helped their sister embezzle and launder the funds.

Marchan was arrested at her home in North Brunswick by officers from the prosecutor’s office and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

All three are charged with conspiracy, theft by unlawful taking and financial facilitation of criminal activity. They could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges, the prosecutor’s office said.

Marchan is being held on $50,000 bail at the county jail. Her brothers have not yet been arrested.

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