Wednesday, January 18, 2006

'Tis the Season for Embezzlement

Earlier posts (here and here) discussed recent embezzlement prosecutions in Washington, D.C., and Maryland involving large amounts of money transferred by the defendants to fund rather lavish personal spending.  Another case in the District of Columbia seems to be the topper, at least for the victim missing a rather obvious sign that trouble could be looming.  Anna Anderson entered a guilty plea to wire fraud charges related to embezzling almost $900,000 from a lobbying firm.  Anderson wired funds from the firm's bank account into an account she opened at a Virginia bank, and then moved some of the money into her fiance's account.  A press release (here) issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office details Anderson's accounting of how she spent the money:

[Anderson] acknowledged wrongfully taking between $500,000 and $600,000 from Global. She estimated that she had spent the money over in the following manner on goods and services for her own use: $40,000 on travel; $20,000 on clothes; $10,000 on purses; $10,000 on a Christmas party; $30,000 on decorations; $20,000 on down payments on cars; $5,000 on a sprinkler system; $6,000 on a gutter system; $9,000 on landscaping; $10,000 on a deck; $15,000 on general bills; $50,000 on past due bills and collections; $80,000 on jewelry; $18,000 on divorce proceedings; $22,000 on daycare; $130,000 on an upcoming wedding; $30,000 on an engagement party; $6,000 on a play set; $30,000 on furniture; and $8,000 on an intercom system.

During this same period, the defendant and her fiancé made the following specific purchases, among others, using the illegally obtained funds: (1) a 2002 Mercedes Benz S430, for $40,466.61; (2) a Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle and accessories for approximately $25,000; (3) a 1995 BMW 740, with approximately $14,800 being paid on the vehicle; and (4) a 2.01 carat diamond engagement ring set in platinum, with an appraised value of $33,296.55.

What makes this different from the other embezzlements?  To start with, Anderson was convicted in Virginia just one year before she started working for the firm in 2004 for -- you guessed it -- embezzlement.  She was placed on six years probation for that offense, and of course was still on probation when the lobbying firm hired her as its bookkeeper.  I wonder who was responsible for checking her background before putting her into a position in which she was able to siphon hundreds of thousands of dollars without anyone noticing that nice Mercedes or 2 carat diamond engagement ring.  At least her taste is better than the defendant who used the embezzled money to buy a mink jacket with fox trim. (ph)

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Unfortunately, this seems to happen all the time. I write a blog on similiar matters and the working world can no longer allow "due diligence" to be a "optional" thought in the overall oricess.

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