Alleged embezzlement casts spotlight on non-profit account security

A school employee’s alleged theft of more than $45,000 from a bank account associated with St. Albert the Great Catholic Parish is the most recent case of suspected embezzlement from Miami Valley non-profit organizations.

Kettering Police announced on Monday they arrested Stacy Bowling, 39, of Kettering, for felony theft.

Bowling is accused of writing checks and making debit purchases to herself for personal reasons, police said. They allege she stole more than $45,000 from July 2014 to October 2015 from St. Albert the Great Catholic Parish.

This is the second instance funds have allegedly been stolen from an account associated with the parish school.

Jennifer Boggan of Centerville was sentenced in January to one year in prison for stealing more than $65,000 from the St. Albert the Great Parent Teacher Organization. Boggan had been the PTO’s volunteer treasurer.

Experts say thefts from non-profits not only cost money, they can damage a reputation.

“It’s kind of a black eye not only for them but for everybody in the non-profit sector. The community gets a little skeptical and a little concerned,” said Joe Baldasare, vice president of development for The Dayton Foundation.

Baldasare has spent 40 years in the non-profit secto and said every non-profit should have a yearly audit done by an outside auditor.

“The smaller non-profits are usually operating on a shoe string. When you operate on a shoe string, you start cutting corners and when you cut corners, sometimes bad things happen,” he added. “It’s not expensive when you think about what can happen if you don’t have them in place.”

He said some auditors will reduce fees for non-profits.

Kettering Police Lt. Daniel Gangwer said his department gets a few cases each year dealing with theft from non-profits and businesses.

“The first thing, I would probably vet the person that you’re going to put in charge of that fund,” Gangwer said. “Make sure you’re doing your audits and things of that nature. Then you don’t have to contact us eventually.”

The former executive director of Lions Eye Bank of West Central Ohio, Angela K. Burnham of Springboro, was recently indicted for stealing more than $338,000. The former executive director of the Preble County Historical Society, Melanie Jane Lightner, was indicted for grand theft. Both women pleaded not guilty.

“There needs to be multiple checks, multiple people who are reviewing those checks and making sure the deposits — two people are signing off on it so you always have a backup on what’s happening. Who’s writing checks? Probably should be signed by more than one person,” Baldasare said.

Those measures need to happen everyday, according to Baldasare.

Gangwer said groups should consider who gets access to the bank accounts.

“If they’re just going to be a bookkeeper, they may not need access to spend funds or move funds,” Gangwer said.

Baldasare said thefts from non-profits are usually isolated incidents. He said he’s seen many non-profits recover from thefts.

“Ninety-nine percent of the non-profits out there do a wonderful, wonderful job,” Baldasare said. “Give to the charities that you care the most about because they are doing good work in the community.”

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