October 18, 2019

Imagine, If You Can, Someone Taking Advantage of a Lack of Oversight at a Roman Catholic Archdiocese

Hard to believe, right?! Well, a "quiet unassuming woman" named Anita Collins spent the last eight years stealing $1 million from the Archdiocese of New York. Funny story! Ms. Collins has been known to have sticky fingers in the past, pleading guilty to grand larceny in 1999 and a misdemeanor charge in 1986. How did Church officials miss this you ask? The lack of oversight (i.e. Ms. Collins did not undergo a background check) and, yes, internal controls:

Ms. Collins used her position to carry out a sophisticated fraud that consisted in part of billing the archdiocese for nonexistent services and channeling the money into accounts she controlled. Because checks of $2,500 or less did not require approval from a supervisor, Ms. Collins kept the payments just under that amount, issuing over 450 such checks to herself over seven years, according to the official, Adam Kaufmann, the chief of investigations for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. “Every entity has controls in place to try to protect themselves, and the sad thing is that if you’ve got a corrupt employee they’ll find a way around the controls,” Mr. Kaufmann added. Most of the money, he said in an e-mail, was spent on mortgage payments and on “a lifestyle that was not extravagant but was far beyond her lawful means.”

Setting aside the control environment, what exactly is wrong with "a lifestyle that was not extravagant"? Can this really be considered a crime? Sure the money wasn't hers, but if there's no evidence of Sue Sachdeva-esque shopping sprees can't this be swept under the rug? I mean, the Catholic Church has been screwing people for years and nobody's asking for anything back.

Bookkeeper Accused of Stealing $1 Million From Archdiocese [NYT]

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