October 18, 2018

Embezzlement

WTF? CPA Accused of Stealing Over $93,000 from Girl Scouts, Cancer Center

Through the years, Going Concern has chronicled accountants and finance chiefs getting caught doing really shitty things. But if this accountant is found guilty of the charges levied against her, this has to rank among the shittiest of the shitty. From the Los Angeles Daily News: A certified public accountant charged with embezzling more than […]

Here’s a Textbook Case of Dumb People Engaging in Illicit Sexting Spiraling into Extortion, Embezzlement

Where exactly does "sexting extortion" fall on the fraud triangle, anyway? In today's sordid tale of embezzlement gone wrong, we present Shelly Lough of West Virginia. Shelly worked as a Bethany College cashier before a single misdirected text turned her whole life upside down. Usually, the recipient of a text not intended for their number […]

Protip For CPAs: Don’t Embezzle From Your Employer to Pay For Your License Renewal

There is always "that guy" who has to ruin it for everyone. So if next time you go to renew your CPA license, the state board asks you "did you steal from your employer to pay for this license renewal?" you know why: An accountant and finance manager for a local tool and die company […]

Ex-Grant Thornton Partner Sorry for Taking $4 Million That Wasn’t His

Craig Haber, who, after being a partner at Grant Thornton for 11 years, started helping himself to client fees, admitted today that what he did was wrong and he's sure sorry about the whole thing:   Craig Haber, who prosecutors said diverted money to his own bank accounts between 2004 and 2012, pleaded guilty to […]

Minnesota Accountant Has Three Years to Think About Life Choices After His Embezzlement Put Father-in-Law Out of a Job

Ronald Schaeffer of Fairbault, Minnesota was the one-man accounting department of Environmental Tillage Systems Inc. He was, in the words of Kevin Born, the company's CEO, the “most trusted employee” at ETS. Disciples of COSO would tell you that this is far from an ideal situation. You know, no segregation of duties and whatnot. This precarious set-up at […]

Internal Controls Are of the Devil (Or: Why Stealing from the Catholic Church Is So Easy)

The other day I asked my wife if she'd be mad if I started a new religion. I clarified that she would not be required to join my new religion; I just wanted to know if I'd have her support. She didn't really answer. Not out loud. But her nonverbal message was as clear as an auditing standard that was clarified in the Clarity Project1. What she wasn't saying was either (a) she'd be pissed if I really did it, or (b) she'll tolerate my stupid questions, or (c) she'd be shocked if I could get more religious followers than I have Twitter followers2.

An Ex-Grant Thornton Partner Has Been Charged with Embezzling $4 Million

Here's an interesting story about a fella by the name of Craig Haber. Craig became a partner at Grant Thornton in 1993. Around 2004, Craig decided to start helping himself to client fees that rightfully belonged to GT. This went on for a while. Approximately $4 million in fees from 2004 to 2012, to be […]

Burn of the Day: NJ Embezzler Pleads Guilty To Not Paying Taxes on Money She Stole

Ouch! According to the DoJ, a former employee of Atlantic County Concrete and Material Co. admitted yesterday evading federal income taxes on nearly $700,000 she received in 2008. Nancy Armienti, 59, of Elmer, N.J., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of tax evasion. According to documents filed in this case and statements […]

Rita Crundwell to Appear in Federal Court Tomorrow with a Long Face

With the ponies, RV, and Thunderbird all gone, the ex-Dixon, Illinois comptroller must have figured that the jig was up: Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell plans to plead guilty Wednesday to a federal fraud charge that alleges she siphoned more than $53 million from the small northwestern Illinois city’s coffers, according to the U.S. Attorney's […]

Pearl Jam Had a CFO?

Yep! And he allegedly stole about $380,000 from the band. King County prosecutors say that Ricky Goodrich swiped the funds from 2007 to 2010, spending it on "lavish family vacations, spa treatments, life insurance and pricey California wines." Luckily for PJ, an accountant discovered the missing money and finally the jig was up. The Seattle […]

Dixon, Illinois Finds Itself in a Bit of Pinch Since, Ya Know, $53 Million Went Missing

Accordingly, Dixon Mayor Jim Burke is putting the brakes on any investigation because "[it] would cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars" and the woman who had the magic credit card is in a bit of trouble. Hey, someone had to apply the tourniquet after the city bled out. [WAND] 

This Is Your Last Chance to Own (or Gift!) a Piece of Koss Embezzlement History

As you know, convicted embezzling-mother-of-all-hoarders, Sue Sachdeva, had a bit of a shopping problem. She did her damnedest to spend all of $30+ million that she stole from headphone cobbler Koss, but now that she's resting comfortably in Danbury, all that loot needs a home. Back in December, we were tipped to an auction that […]

Vermont Is a Hotbed of Embezzling Embezzlers

Ahh, Vermont. Foliage, second-rated skiing, and, of course, hippies. But apparently, the Green Mountain should be known for something else – stealing from your employer! According to Marquet International Ltd., Vermont "Vermont topped the list of states with highest risk for loss due to embezzlement in 2011." What's the reason for this? Well, it's not […]

Note: The IRS Does Not Appreciate You Not Reporting Your Embezzlement Gains

Let this serve as a warning to any would-be embezzlers out there, if you steal, you better report it to the IRS.


42-year-old Collette Snyder of Timonium, MD pleaded guilty earlier this month to filing false tax returns in 2007 and 2008 after she neglected to claim over $382,000 embezzled from her former employer, Towson, MD-based Maple Leaf Title.

As part of her duties at the title company, Snyder had signature authority over the company’s operating, settlement and recording accounts, which allowed her to begin embezzling money from MLT accounts starting in 2007. She deposited company checks directly into her personal bank account, as well as made checks payable to her husband without his knowledge, forging his signature to deposit those checks in an account he was not aware of. At that point, Snyder had been an employee of MLT for two years.

Snyder took around $149,560 in 2007 and $232,968 in 2008. These embezzled funds were used to purchase jewelry, a BMW, trips, home improvements and private school tuition.

Because reporting this money to the IRS without it clearly declared on her W-2 (despite her writing “payroll” in the memo section of company checks she wrote out to herself) would have alerted authorities to the fraud, Snyder neglected to mention the ill-gotten gains. This resulted in an estimated tax loss of $115,529.37 for her 2007 and 2008 returns.

Due to the embezzlement by Snyder and MLT President Anthony Weis, MLT was unable to perform its duties as a provider of settlement services. With MLT’s escrow account drained, existing mortgage notes could not be paid off by MLT, meaning clear and free title could not be passed to the new lender and borrower of those notes. An insurance company that had issued title insurance policies to the borrowers guaranteeing clear title ultimately paid out $3.9 million to financial institutions that held mortgage notes.

Weis pleaded guilty to wire fraud, was sentenced to 78 months in prison and was ordered to pay restitution of $4,007,705, which includes the loss to the title insurance company and the expenses of the individual victims. He began his sentence in May of this year. The interesting part of this story is that Weis stole money intended for his clients’ real estate closings. And then Snyder stole from the company. Birds of a feather…

Snyder faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled her sentencing for February 3 , 2012 at 11:00 am.

“Mortgage fraud adds to the underground economy that erodes the integrity of our tax system and threatens the financial health of our communities. IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to ‘following the money trail’ to ensure that those who engage in these illegal activities are vigorously investigated and brought to justice,” said IRS – Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Jeannine A. Hammett.

Former Payroll Manager for San Francisco Giants Suspected of Embezzlement After Taking a Little Too Much Credit for Team’s Success

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.

Ex-employee may have taken $1.5M [ESPN]

Embezzling Accountant Will Pay Back Stolen Money and Pay For the Audit That Caught Him

In aren’t you glad these aren’t your internal controls news, former SDN Communications chief accountant Bradley Whitsell of Sioux Falls, SD pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Monday. The U.S. Attorney’s office states that 46-year-old Whitsell used his various oversight positions to embezzle more than $392,000 over a 10 year period beginning in 2000.

According to court documents, Whitsell used company accounts to pay his credit card bills and pay private school tuition. He also wrote checks to himself, redirected electronic payments to cover his expenses, created company checks on his office printer and requested reimbursement for expenses that already were paid by SDN to pay for various personal expenses, including a large landscaping project at his residence and his country club membership.

Whitsell used access to the company’s accounts payable system to change approved vendors’ names with his own, or with those of companies to which he owed money. He would then print out these checks on his office printer and change the names back to the appropriate vendor in the A/P system.

Whitsell could end up in prison for up to 20 years. He initially pleaded not guilty in June to one count each of Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud, each of which could potentially carry a 20 year sentence and a $250,000 fine. U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson states that Whitsell has agreed to pay back the $392,111.65 and will also cover the $84,000 cost of the audit that uncovered his theft.

SDN CEO Mark Shlanta stated officials started noticing “financial irregularities” connected to Whitsell last year, at which time he was put on administrative leave so the company could conduct a forensic audit and internal investigation. Whitsell resigned before the investigation began (hint: red flag). “It’s been embarrassing for me,” Shlanta said. “I’ve been saddened by the events. Really, I felt betrayed in this past year. Brad was someone I hired and trusted.”

The interesting part of this otherwise droll and useless story is that before the house of cards came crashing down all around him, Whitsell served on the City of Sioux Falls audit committee, not only as a member but as its chair.

Back in June, Sioux Falls Councilor Vernon Brown told one SD blogger that Brad Whitsell received high marks from committee members for his work on the Audit Committee in setting up internal controls for city government. Oh the irony.

Whitsell is currently free on bond and returns to court for sentencing November 7th.

Former SDN accountant pleads guilty to mail fraud [HC]
Former SDN executive admits to mail fraud [AL]

Cokehead Accountant Almost Bankrupts His Company By Embezzling His Drug Money

58-year-old Charles Shaffer has been ordered to serve two to four years in prison for stealing nearly $400,000 from his employer to fund a nine-year-long coke habit.

According to testimony, Shaffer stole $381,361 from telecommunications consulting firm Icore Inc. between 2001 and 2010 by writing checks to himself from a medical expense reimbursement employee fund.$381,361 over a nine year period really isn’t that bad of a cocaine habit, unless the guy was buying crap $20 grams from club kids. Think about it… if he was snorting up a really good gram a day at $100 a gram that’s $36,500 a year, but doesn’t take into account high-stress, high-use days like holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and yearly internal audits. Oh wait, obviously they didn’t care about that last one.

“He stole money from Icore, put it up his nose and Icore suffered the consequences,” said Lehigh County Judge Robert L. Steinberg in his decision.

The saddest part of this story (besides the part where the cokehead robs his employer for 9 years and no one seemed to notice) is that Shaffer’s actions very nearly caused the small company, which employs about 15, almost went under had they not had insurance and taken out a loan to stay afloat. “We came pretty close to shutting the doors,” said company VP Paul Kutches in testimony. “(Shaffer) was entrusted to make sure the finances were on the right path.” They were on the right path, alright, straight up his nose. “I would just hope this court imposes a sentence that reminds Mr. Shaffer of stabbing his friends in the back every day,” said Kutches when asked what sort of sentence he’d like to see his former employee receive in this case.

Shaffer started with the company in 1997, however company bank records only go back to 2001. Company officials first contacted investigators in June 2010 when they discovered missing money and Shaffer was arrested the following August. At that time, he signed over his $33,634 company retirement plan and forfeited his $80,000 a year salary.

Now that he’s off the powdered sauce, Shaffer is showing signs of regret for his actions. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel remorseful,” he told the judge.

Remember, kids: internal controls are an awesome, awesome thing.

Accountant gets prison for embezzling to buy drugs
[Morning Call]

Australian Accountant’s List of Items to Spend Stolen Money on Pretty Typical with the Exception of Sequined Gloves, Autographed Thriller Albums

Rajina Rita Subramaniam seemed to be Down Under version of Sue Sachdeva until I got to “Michael Jackson memorabilia.”

A Sydney accountant is set to plead guilty to defrauding her employer of $45 million [USD 47.9 million] before spending the money on several beachside apartments, champagne, diamond jewellery and Michael Jackson memorabilia.

Rajina Rita Subramaniam was working as a senior accountant with the financial group ING Australia in October 2009 when she was arrested for allegedly siphoning tens of millions of dollars from the company into a number of private accounts.

Police allege that a search of ING’s Kent Street office uncovered a cache of luxury items, including 600 pieces of jewellery from Tiffany & Co, Tag Heuer, Bulgari and Paspaley Pearls, 200 perfume and make-up items from Chanel and a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne.

Court told of $45m shopping spree [Sydney Morning Herald]

Man Who Left CFO Job for ‘New Endeavors’ Failed to Mention That His Old Endeavors Involved Embezzlement (Allegedly)

Timothy Mask worked at Flint Hydrostatics for 25 years calling the company “a true blessing in my life.” Not an extraordinary statement, considering many people have strong feelings for the companies they serve but it’s possible that Mask felt that Flint was such a “blessing” because he spent the last twelve years allegedly “stealing” $1.2 million.

Things started unraveling when Tim up and resigned on May 5th, leaving his boss a Dear John letter of sorts:

“Effective immediately, I resign from Flint Hydrostatics, Inc.,” said the letter Timothy W. Mask left on the president’s desk.

“Flint has been a true blessing in my life,” wrote Mask, 46, of Corinth, Miss. “I will always cherish friendships that I have built and my fellow employees. It has just come time for me to move on to new endeavors.”

You see, Kevin Fienup, Flint’s director of business development and secretary, as well as the son of the company’s president, started looking into Mask’s old endeavors and found a number of checks that were made out to Mask and the company’s janitor. Allegedly, Mask would have his assistant cut checks to the janitor (or Mask if the janitor wasn’t available) who would cash them and then place the cash in a locked drawer in Mask’s office. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Fineup “left his office door open and had documents on his desk about the irregular transactions the night before Mask resigned.” One might conclude that Tim saw said documents, figured the jig was up and sat down to write his heartfelt letter.

As for his “new endeavors” it appears that Mask may have been trying to make a break for it, as the Appeal also reports that he had a “two-week vacation to Hawaii” scheduled to start yesterday, had recently sent mail to a passport processing center and had started transferring $200,000 from his 401k. But instead he got arrested which probably kinda threw a wrench into his plans.

Former chief financial officer at Memphis company accused of stealing nearly $1.2 million [MCA]

Sue Sachdeva Was Needlessly Paranoid About Grant Thornton’s Fraud Detecting Abilities

About a year ago at this time, we just started learning about Sue Sachdeva, the convicted embezzler extraordinaire of headphone cobbler Koss. It took a little less than a year for everything to get sorted out including quite the inventory of luxury loot, her emerging talent for stealing money, lawsuits, a guilty plea and a sentence of 11 years.

Since all that’s settled it’s on to the lawsuits and Suze was recently deposed in Koss’s lawsuit against Grant Thornton where she testified about many interesting things, including being a nervous nelly from the get-go:

Former Koss Corp. executive Sujata “Sue” Sachdeva worried each day that she would be caught embezzling money that eventually totaled $34 million.

“Fear was one thing. I thought it was imminent,” she said in a recent court deposition. “Their auditors, every time they walked in, I’d say, ‘This is it. They’re going to catch me.’ 

Turns out, S-squared was paranoid for no good reason because – as we all know – GT had no clue that she was lifting millions every year to pay off her AMEX, partly, she says, because they were throwing green auditors at the company every year:

Sachdeva said in the deposition that Grant Thornton considered Koss to be a well-run company and a good training ground for its new auditors.

“Every year, we’d have at least one or two new auditors come through, and I know Michael (Koss) and I both objected to that – getting kids right out of college and had to explain the business to them every time,” Sachdeva said.

Sachdeva said she never held back documents from the auditors. They didn’t question the amounts of money flowing in and out of the company, nor did they question the internal controls, she said. The lack of inquiries surprised her, she said.

Then there were the allegations that she was having regular three-vodka-shot lunches, according to an October article in Milwaukee Magazine:

Retailers who lunched with Sachdeva say she downed vodka shots at the North Shore Bistro with Julie and Tracy. “Then they all went back to work bombed,” says one shop owner.

One consignment shop owner recalls picking up Sachdeva and taking her to Harvey’s restaurant in Mequon. “Sue told the waiter she wanted her ‘juice.’ They knew that meant vodka,” says the shop owner, who was surprised by how much Sachdeva drank.

Well, it all kinda makes sense now doesn’t it? She was either paranoid because she drank or drank because she was paranoid. OR the amateur auditors drove her so batty and she had no choice but to get a little loaded. Anyway you slice it, the auditors seem to be ones to blame, which seems like a trend these days.

Koss embezzler feared discovery from start [MJS]
The Diva [Milwaukee Magazine]

California Church Accountant Who May Have Stolen $2 Mil Pleads Not Guilty

For the very last time: just because you are a non-profit does not mean you can operate recklessly with minimal internal controls and/or no controls at all.

Case in point, this Fresno church accounting manager who may have stolen $2 million from the church she spent 13 years working for.


51 year-old Sandra Arreola pleaded not guilty last Friday to charges that she borrowed $2.1 million from church tithes and offerings and used the money for properties, bills, vacations and clothing. Pastor Mike Robertson of Visalia First Assembly of God Church says the church noticed about two years ago that something was fishy with Arreola’s accounting. “A few regularities began to surface while testing the payroll system. Additional discrepancies in the handling of contributions came to light as a result of a further internal investigation in conjunction with a forensic audit.”

Of course, had the church been in the practice of doing regular audits in the first place (or at least open to some really reasonable internal control suggestions), it wouldn’t have to call the cops on its trusted employee and send her to jail over $2 million. Robertson says the church’s insurance policy will recover some of that money but that’s not the point. The church has since installed security cameras “to prevent fraud” – not exactly the sort of proactive stance we support around here.

Church member Becky Maze had only nice things to say about our little crook, saying Arreola was “always willing to help” and “a lovely hostess. One of the things she was well-known for was liking to have a tea for the women, and making the little cookies and desserts — the froufrou kind of things.”

Froufrou isn’t cheap, you know. There’s your motive.

Sandy is a fan of “I GAVE IT TO GOD” on Facebook, which makes us wonder if that’s where she’ll tell us the money went when she’s grilled during her trial.

Just goes to show that the religious and God-fearing might be exempt when it comes to taxes but not when it comes to the temptation to take when motive, opportunity and/or rationalization are at work. Hallelujah!

Church accountant accused of embezzling more than $2 million [The Fresno Bee]

Nun-cum-former CFO, Who May Have a Gambling Problem, Allegedly Made Off with Some Iona College Cash

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]

Ernst & Young Employee Shared Sue Sachdeva’s Taste in Loot, Lacked Her Fraudulent Self-control

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.

Ernst & Young employee gets prison in embezzlement [SFC]

Koss Demands Sue Sachdeva’s Help Winning Their Civil Case Against Sue Sachdeva

The least convicted embezzler-cum-recovering shopaholic Sue Sachdeva could do is help out the company that she ripped off to the tune of $34 million.

Despite how Suz feels about it, her lawyers do not want her to be deposed in Koss’s civil case against her and Grant Thornton until after she is sentenced to prison for the rest of her worthwhile shopping days. Doing so would jeopardize putting her back at Nordstrom’s sooner than they would like:

Sachdeva anticipates receiving a two-level decrease in the federal court sentencing guidelines by accepting responsibility for her actions, her Madison attorney Jack Williams said in court documents filed last month. She reached a plea agreement on the charges in July.

“Submitting to a deposition could jeopardize Mrs. Sachdeva’s opportunity to receive that decrease,” Williams argued.

Koss Corp. vehemently opposes Sachdeva’s motion on the grounds that she needs to cooperate not only with prosecutors in her criminal case, but also with her former employer in its efforts to win a civil judgment against her and former Koss auditor Grant Thornton LLP.

Sachdeva tries to delay her deposition in Koss suit [The Business Journal of Milwaukee (partial subscription required)]

Sue Sachdeva Guarantees That She’ll Be Able to Watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown a Free Woman

And the World Series too!

Maybe we’re unfairly assuming that Suze is a fan of the Peanuts gang or baseball but what else is going on in between October and November 18th? A few Badger football games?

Koss Corp. embezzler Sujata “Sue” Sachdeva will get a one-month reprieve on her sentencing after requesting, and receiving, an order from U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman.

Adelman said in a brief order that federal prosecutors did not oppose Sachdeva’s request to adjourn the sentencing to Nov. 18 from the previously scheduled Oct. 18.

Koss’ Sachdeva gets sentencing reprieve [Business Journal of Milwaukee]

Sue Sachdeva Pleads Guilty, Shopaholism Still a Possible Motive

Well gang, the Sue Sachdeva circus has come to an unspectacular end. S-squared pleaded guilty yesterday to the $30-odd million embezzlement at headphone factory Koss. No trial, no media circus (the type we envisioned anyway) and no spectacular cross-examination that could have resulted in a great Law & Order Brewtown spinoff.

Nope. Just a guilty plea, some regret from Suz and the distinct possibility that something might not be right upstairs. Although the MJS reports, “when asked whether she had any mental health issues. [Her attorney, Michael] Hart answered for her, saying there were no issues of mental health that prevented her from understanding the government’s case or the plea agreement,” her statement alludes to some “issues” that led to the thieving:


Sachdeva Release

So while the Sachdeva portion of this program is more or less over (sentencing is October 22), we still have the Koss v. Grant Thornton blamestorming to look forward to. Which will be a for more nerdy exchange but could result in some fun finger-pointing, nonetheless.

Sachdeva pleads guilty, says she regrets fraud [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Some Crooked Accountants Need to Try Harder

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.

A Wisconsin Non-Profit Learns an Important Lesson in Internal Controls

Presented by Serenic Software. Download our free whitepaper – “5 Key Reasons Why Great Financial Management is So Important for Your Nonprofit Now”

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]

Koss Fraud May Have Been Due, in No Small Part, to Michael Koss Holding Five Executive Positions

[caption id="attachment_3471" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Hi. I\'m Sue and I\'m a shopaholic "][/caption]

It’s been nearly three weeks since we last picked up the Koss/Sue Sachdeva beat, when we told you about Michael Koss resigning as the audit committee chair of Strattec Security Corp. At that time, Strattec had also elected to give Grant Thornton the boot as its auditor.

Over the weekend, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted a lengthy-ish piece on the “relaxed oversight and lax controls” as the opportunity for the chronic shop ’til you dropper Sue Sachdeva to make off with $31 million. These particular issues (i.e. incestuous management and virtually no internal controls) are a matter of record although it’s interesting to note the new details that come to light.


The article mentions how Michael Koss managed to “serve” in five executive roles at the company: vice chairman, chief executive officer, chief operating officer, president and chief financial officer. PLUS, the aforementioned audit committee chairmanship at Strattec.

Now, we’re not entirely sure what the responsibilities would be for each of the positions at Koss but at a regular company, one of these jobs would result in some or possibly all of the following: insomnia, workaholism, a drug problem, an ugly divorce. Throw in the responsibilities of an audit committee chairmanship and one would assume that Michael Koss walked across Lake Michigan to get to work.

Oh, and just so you’re aware, the Journal Sentinel brings up that MK was an anthropology major. You may have some opinions about that.

The JS also spoke to one of the women that was fired along with Suze, Tracy Malone, who “still speaks highly of the company, although it fired her and objected to her claim for unemployment compensation.” Koss fired Malone because they allege that she “she knew of the misappropriation of funds but failed to report it to superiors.” Ms Malone’s attorney has stated these allegations are false.

So hang on a minute. Your lawyer says you were fired under “false allegations”, the company rejects your claim for unemployment comp, and you still speak highly of said company? Yeesh, have some self-respect lady.

Theft at Koss blamed on relaxed attitude, lax oversight [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Former Pastor Figures Eighth Commandment Is Overrated, Steals from Nonprofit

It takes a certain kind of person to defraud a non-profit organization. In a word: scumbag. Now consider the idea of a pastor of a church defrauding a non-profit organization. A non-profit organization that is tasked with providing cash and food for those in dire need. This person would be David Croyle, the former pastor of Stahl Mennonite Church in Johnstown, PA.

Croyle embezzled around $18,000 from St. Francis Sharing and Caring Inc. from 2005 to 2008. We figure he Either came to the conclusion that doing the Good Lord’s work was incredibly overrated or that he just plain needed the money. Seriously though, $18k? Did he really want a slightly used Honda Civic or something?


Regardless of the motive, Croyle has been charged with “56 counts each of theft by deception, failure to make required disposition of funds, theft and receiving stolen property,” according to the Daily American.

Part of Croyle’s duties at St. Francis was to determine eligible individuals, so he created C&A Management Services. Magically this company was “eligible” and then he requested checks payable to the company. Eventually someone found this a little fishy and hired Wessel & Co. a local accounting firm who discovered the embezzlement.

Somewhere God is shaking his head and somewhere else entirely, Sue Sachdeva is thinking, “Was this guy even trying?”

Police: pastor swindled nonprofit [Daily American]

Koss VP Sue Sachdeva: Shopping Addict or Burgeoning Retail Queen?

It’s been a few days since we had read anything on embezzler of the year 2009, Sue Sachdeva. We figured the whole thing was on the fast track to getting resolved since her attorney started claiming that the woman has an addiction. Well today, we checked in over at Fraud Files Blog where Tracy Coenen has come up with a theory that blows the whole shop until you die argument out of the water

Since Sue had 461 different pairs of shoes that ranged from sizes 8 to 14 (!) and 34 fur coats, Tracy is thinking that S-squared didn’t have a shopping problem; she was simply working on achieving an entrepreneurial dream:

She couldn’t have worn that range of sizes, but that range would have been perfect for someone retailing the merchandise. I bet we’re going to hear soon that Sachdeva was selling this merchandise to domestic and overseas retailers at a fraction of their wholesale value.

It’s already a matter of record that SS was having garage sales at her desk, so Tracy’s logic makes sense. We’re now convinced Sue had bigger plans.

Obviously enamored with the idea of a Sachdeva Goodman’s, Suze may have gotten a little ahead of herself as Tracy notes, “[I]n late 2009 (which is fiscal 2010 for Koss) she got greedy and stole much more in a six month period than she ever had in one year.”

The indictment lists six wire transfers (total of nearly $3 mil) from Koss accounts directly to her personal AMEX accountant, so girl was definitely burning up the plastic. That’s not an addiction; that’s inventory. Besides, isn’t a shopping addiction a faux-addiction? The real tragedy here is that a dream was not reached and an accounting firm was fired. Neither makes us feel very good.

Quote of the Day | 01.19.10

“Audits are of limited usefulness – the scope of work is so small and is done in such a compressed time, usually at the end of the year. And the work that auditors do is predictable.”
~ Tracy Coenen, of Fraud Files Blog, in regards to the how Sue Sachdeva allegedly pulled off a $31 million embezzlement at Koss under the nose of Grant Thornton (Steve Chipman may need a pair of these to drown out the attorneys). [Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin Business News]

Report: Accountants Responsible for Two-thirds of Embezzlements

Sue_Sachdeva.pngOkay auditors. No more excuses. You should already be giving everyone the stink-eye the second you walk in the door but now we’ve got a REPORT about embezzlement in the US of A that gives you all kinds of hints on who you should suspect — provable or not — of being the next Sue Sachdeva.
The Marquet Report on Embezzlement is an annual report put out by Marquet International, Ltd., a “an independent investigative, litigation support and security consulting firm” according to the company’s website.


Here are some of the key findings in the report:

• Women are more likely to embezzle than men.
• Men embezzle significantly more than women.
• Perpetrators typically begin their embezzlement schemes in their early 40s.
• By a significant margin, embezzlers are most likely to be individuals who hold
financial positions within organizations.
• The two broad industry categories that have the highest risk for a major
embezzlement are Financial Services and Government Agencies/Municipalities.
• The Financial Services industry suffers the greatest losses from major
embezzlements.
• On average, major embezzlement schemes last about 4½ years.
• California and Florida are consistently the states that experience the greatest
losses from major embezzlements.
• The vast majority of major embezzlements are caused by sole perpetrators
• Gambling is a clear motivating factor in driving some major embezzlements.
• Fewer than 10 percent of embezzlers have a criminal record – less than expected, but enough to suggest that pre-employment screening has merit.

Some takeaways: 1) Immediately suspect anyone that gambles. Even if it’s bingo games in the church basement; 2) If you’re in California or Florida you’ve got your work cut out for you; 3) By “a significant margin” they mean accounting/finance personnel were responsible in 67% of the cases. Executives were second, in 13% of the cases.
Annnnd since we know you’re wondering: the largest embezzlement case in 2009 was none other than our Suz. Based on the criteria above, it appears that she should have been under suspicion from day one but you can’t fault Grant Thornton too much. This is only the second report that Marquet has issued so chances are she still would have made off with $20 million. Oh well, you’ll get ’em next time!
The top ten from 2009:
Picture 2.png
Report On Major Embezzlements 2009.pdf