Wednesday, October 11, 2023
There is unfortunately but not surprisingly a steady litany of stories involving charity insiders allegedly stealing significant funds from the charities they operate. Of course some malfeasance among the approximately one and a-half million charities (based on IRS data and so not counting all charities and particularly all churches) is unavoidable. And often the amounts are small, reflecting both the small financial size of many charities and likely their related lack of strong internal controls to prevent such theft. That said, it is worth noting when the amounts at issue cross into seven-figure territory. There are at least two such stories last month, one from Florida and the other from Ohio.
The Florida case involves the former CEO of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) being "charged with one count each of organized scheme to defraud, grand theft and official misconduct, all felonies." Readers of this blog may remember that this has been a long-simmering situation, which began with a state audit triggered by public reports that the CEO had been paid $761,000 in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2017. That audit led in 2021 to the former CEO repaying to FCADV $2.1 million in alleged excess compensation, as well as payments from FCADV's insurer and other former officials, and FCADV's dissolution. But those payments were apparently not enough to protect the former CEO from criminal charges. Coverage: Florida Politics; Miami Herald.
The Ohio case involves former executives of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium being charged with alleging diverting over $2 million for their own benefit. The Attorney General's press release alleges that "the former executives manipulated credit-card and check authorization forms for more than a decade" and that the "stolen money was spent on lavish non-zoo related items, including suites and tickets to concerts and sporting events; golf memberships; trips to multiple states and foreign countries; meals, beverages and alcohol; and motor vehicles." Coverage: Columbus Dispatch; N.Y. Times.