Thursday, April 14, 2011
Unfortunately, embezzlement cases continue to surface. The Illinois Attorney General has charged Aurea Picasso, the former director of the Welfare Services Department of Hanover County with stealing $193,000 in welfare funds including $25,000 from a food charity. She had been given access to the charity's bank accounts and apparently lack of oversight led to thefts over a period of time. The Tribune had asked about Picasso's role in the food charity, which is now defunct, and that led to the investigation.
This sad story points out two constants in policing the nonprofit sector. First, oversight by the charity of its financial assets is important. When someone has access to a bank account, another officer or employee should have the authority to review the accounts and maybe more, depending on the circumstances (if one person has sole control of the money, fixing the accounts to look ok may not be difficult). Second, investigative journalism fulfills a valuable role in identifying possible problems in charities.