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a classic "skimming" fraud 2011/06/21 12:02  
Although the victim non-profit is not a condo realty organization, Directors should be reminded of warning signs during a hire.

The skim can start immediately too - even though one would expect scrutiny initially tighter : Guilty plea after classic skimming began Day # 1 and detected only on fraudster’s day off. Took $140 K in 11 months from non-profit with $2.5 M budget. Access given to hired fraudster already in financial and personal chaos when hired . Fraudster misused electronic transfers and signature stamp for forged cheques.
See June 21, 2011 Ottawa Citizen

Update Jan 23 2014 Citizen column is no longer online. Here is relevant excerpted text:

Citizen May 5/12 : “Bookkeeper admits stealing from Opera Lyra even as she awaited sentencing for other fraud” Bookkeeper+admits+stealing+from+Opera+Lyra+even+awaited+sentencing+other+fraud/6559943/story.html

photo of chorus: A bookkeeper hired by Opera Lyra has admitted stealing more than $11,000 from the company or about 20 per cent of the financially strapped opera company’s cash.

OTTAWA — A woman awaiting sentencing for defrauding the Canadian Council of Archives admitted on Thursday that she also stole from Opera Lyra, even as the cash-strapped arts group had to cancel performances due to funding shortfalls.
Glenda O’Hara, 56, took $11,437 from Opera Lyra, writing 14 cheques to herself between November and January.

O’Hara took the bookkeeping job AFTER she pleaded guilty to stealing $140,000 from the non-profit Canadian Council of Archives, where she worked as a payroll manager.

In a victim impact statement, Opera Lyra said the money O’Hara stole amounted to 20 per cent of its cash on hand at the time. O’Hara wasn’t one of the employees who lost their jobs after the company halted performances in mid-November. Supporters had to lend the company money to survive.

The Opera Lyra job wasn’t the only extra bookkeeping work O’Hara picked up. She also admitted to stealing $5,762 from Ottawa Towing after Opera Lyra’s director of finance saw a newspaper report about her sentencing on the earlier fraud and discovered she had been taking money from them, too.

During the earlier sentencing hearing, prosecutor Matthew Geigen-Miller said a tearful O’Hara told Ontario Court Justice Ann Alder she was good at her job at Opera Lyra and never handled any money.

The day before, she cashed a cheque she had written to herself. Geigen-Miller asked for up to two years in jail for O’Hara, who herself admitted to a psychiatrist that she had also stolen $20,000 from the Metis National Council and a further $40,000 from Canadian Produce Marketing Association in the past.

In addition to three years’ probation, Geigen-Miller asked for an order under new legislation banning O’Hara from ever handling anyone’s money ever again. “This is a lengthy career of abusing a position of trust,” said Geigen-Miller. “Simply put, she is going to need to train and find a new line of work to protect the public from her dishonesty.” © Ottawa Citizen
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Pyxis ()
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Re:a classic "skimming" fraud 2011/06/21 14:24  
Only one person in charge of disbursements?

Probably so.

Trust but verify Ronald Reagan said. Applies in business too.

The management was negligent and should be held responsible too. IMHO
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Re:a classic "skimming" fraud 2011/06/21 16:10  
Look at all the stuff they built in Gravenhurst with the same deal, using your tax dollars. They added the skim to the invoice.
Richard Forster
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Markie ()
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* 2011/06/24 09:20  
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Thieves Can Find The Money 2011/06/24 10:24  
Sometimes they get so cocky, they don't hide much!

She paid her Mastercard with it and then a cash tranfers to another personal account, BOTH in her name! You don't need forensics for that! There was no mystery.

She also confessed, so there was nothing to prove or dissprove.
Richard Forster
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Pyxis ()
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Re:Thieves Can Find The Money 2011/06/24 23:19  
Most persons involved in defalcations start out fully intending to pay back the embezzled money. They often keep meticulous records.

When someone handling other people's money never takes a day off or vacation it is a red flag that cannot be overlooked.
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Re:Thieves Can Find The Money 2011/06/24 23:59  
Gambling has been linked to these occurences too.

She put the money into her own account. She didn't create fake invoices and companies to launder the proceeds.
Richard Forster
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fraudsters delight 2011/06/25 10:25  
Canada goes easy on embezzlers. Whatever sentence the Archives fraudster eventually receives after her guilty plea, it will be less than the 35 to 60 year sentence reported imposed after conviction in Feb/11 onto the Fox Park HOA embezzling HOA bookkeeper in Wyoming who snatched at least $400,000.00 ( via )

Embezzlers may target organizations where those few prepared to volunteer, may not be as healthy or skilled as they were once. Eg Dec 10 2010 wptv .com website Channel 5 : $ two million (US) allegedly stolen by Florida PMC employee 52-year-old Grace Cushman Cromwell. “Two members of the board signed the checks. One was a 95-year-old woman with impaired eyesight. The other was an 85-year-old woman with fragmented memory. Several other checks were written directly to Cromwell and signed by the two elderly women”

And the gambling. No charges have yet been laid, pending audits after lurid headlines about a gambling priest in Ottawa. Oversight ? : “ Ottawa Citizen June 23/11 “Archdiocese fires volunteer accountant at xxxx” " XXXX, 79, a retired accountant, has served as church bookkeeper for the past 14 years. ...
Auditors have raised questions about some $250,000 of cheques issued from church accounts to xxx's former pastor, Father xxxx. .... characterized Father xxxx as a "one-man band" whose spending faced little or no oversight at the church. Father xxxx could write cheques to himself from church accounts without a counter-signature and did not have to submit receipts in order to have a cheque approved. "I wouldn't approve anything: if he writes a cheque, I just record the cheque," xxxx told the Citizen. Father xxxx, who has admitted to a gambling problem, left the parish in late May and later entered an addiction treatment program. (The volunteer) said that he might have been more "meticulous" in scrutinizing the cheques that Father XXXX issued himself from church accounts. "Maybe there are things I should have done that I didn't do. I should have been more aggressive, maybe, and questioned the expenses."
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How Easy Is It?? 2011/06/25 10:41  
We all learned that anyone can take a cheque payable to anybody and cash it in an ATM.

Most management contracts contain a clause that permits the PMC to invoice the corporation or owners for things like liens prepartion and status certificates, calling of tenders and bids...

The Treasurer here would just go shopping for Christmas decorations, paint for the lobby, new bingo cards... and turn in the receipt, and write herself a cheque, if the manager didn't pay her out of petty cash or the managers float.

The more money there is - the easier it is from some to go missing.

If CAFCOR wanted to make a recommendation, an AUDIT Committee should be mandatory for every condo corporation. They too would look at the financial statements, and report to/or question the board at each of the director meetings, and the owners at the AGM, along with the formal auditors report. It should also be the mandatory that the financial statements are sent to the Ministry, for financial compliance with the Act.
Richard Forster
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whistleblowers MIGHT not DARE to challenge the powerful insider 2014/01/21 21:08  
About to be sentenced for GUILTY plea ( fraud & theft ) Father Joe XXXX had responded to someone's insider leaks as follows :

He denied the gambling cashflows exposed in the Ottawa Citizen.

He denounced the Ottawa Citizen from the pulpit itself.

He "offered blessings to those who cancelled their ( Ottawa Citizen ) subscriptions !

Don't know what is truly 'blasphemous' ? But the latter might be , now that Father Joe XXXX has pleaded GUILTY to theft of $130,000 out of the $400,000 unaccounted for during the Archdiocese's forensic audit. What might have occurred in the decades earlier who can tell ?

Imagine the 'circling of the wagons' if anyone had tried to address the issues internally, once a fraudster gets so powerful.

Even at his sentencing Hearings these last 2 days, Father Joe's supporters are still in denial, and not without some merit for compassion. But

FROM A PULPIT AND WEARING A CLERICAL ROBE is it blasphemy to lie and denounce true whistle-blowing ? Imagine the likely social fate of anyone who had spoken up internally rather than spilling the beans secretly to the Ottawa Citizen, which lost hundreds of subscriptions when Father Joe said : Drink the Kool Aid.

Xcrpted Citizen Jan 20/14 “Archdiocese says it will help Father Joe LeClair return to work” story.html Excerpted ( hopefully not inviting copyright police ) :

... “Aware of his many talents and of his 25 years of effective pastoral ministry, we will work with Fr. LeClair in his desire to return to the exercise of his priestly ministry,” - Archbishop Terrence Prendergast . ( After the Citizen press reports) many parishioners at LeClair’s former parish, Blessed Sacrament, were angered by the archbishop’s decision to lodge a formal police complaint against LeClair. Prendergast defended that decision Monday:

At the time, LeClair claimed he used his own money to gamble and won enough to keep himself financially stable.He denounced the newspaper from the pulpit and offered blessings to those who cancelled their subscriptions.

Gerry Nott, now a senior executive with Postmedia, was publisher and editor-in-chief of the Citizen when the LeClair story broke.

Nott used the occasion to praise those sources who helped the Citizen expose financial malfeasance at the church, a registered charity. “It took a great deal of bravery from those who spoke out and could not stand to see a man they had placed so much faith in take advantage of those he trusted,” Nott said. “While there is no sense of vindication for the Citizen, I’m immensely proud of the work done here to bring this issue to light.

Hundreds of subscribers left the paper over our coverage and believed we were wrong. I wouldn’t change a thing about how the story was covered" - Copyrighted Ottawa Citizen.

Thanks for having the journalistic guts to persevere.
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skimming whether by spiritual manager or property manager 2014/01/22 22:34  
Sentencing of confessed fraudster priest has been postponed to March 19/14. Amongst the audit & media disclosures : his nominal annual salary was $22,000 but he lawfully tucked away $769,000 over 5 years plus as much as $400,000 estimated skimmed.

Unanswered : how Ottawa Citizen got details of Father Joe's bank events & VISA cash flows.

Dumspster diving ? Or INSIDER too frightened or smart to challenge the now-confessed fraudster & his fervent supporters, so alerted the Citizen ?

A textbook example why volunteer governance often doesn't catch the slow-skimmers unless early on or amidst some externally pressured audit. Imagine how long this could have continued if Father Joe was not sitting in a casino where someone probably recognized him losing big time. Could have been years without the gambling.

Citizen Jan 22/14 ( Psychatric testimony; Sentencing deferred to March 19/14) 9417039/story.html
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81 year old volunteer ex- overseer : praises the crime that sharpened awareness 2014/01/24 20:00  
How often do the volunteer overseers fess up after being hoodwinked ?

How often do they praise crime that sharpens up awareness ?

"Dejordy said he holds no hard feelings, and in fact, feels (now-convicted Father Joe XXXX ) rendered the diocese “a great service” by exposing the weaknesses of its financial systems."

Citizen publishes shocking but candid defence of the now-convicted fraudster by the retired ex-accountant volunteer who oversaw the fraudster's parish Finance Committee. Age 65-79 he became Committee head believing he should only record not diligence ! And certainly not challenge the charismatic day-time priest/night-time gambler

Citizen Jan 24/14 “Former bookkeeper says Father Joe exposed poor church money-handling” 9427244/story.html

photocaption The longtime accountant at Blessed Sacrament Parish who was fired in the wake of the Father Joe LeClair scandal holds no grudge against his former boss — and doesn’t want to see him go to jail.

Hervé Dejordy was chair of the parish finance committee and principal bookkeeper during LeClair’s 14 years as pastor at Blessed Sacrament.
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Florida sentences property manager for kickback conspiracy 2014/01/26 12:56  
From a pulpit & wearing a clerical collar : what sentence for falsely denying theft from a church, for denouncing and for urging non-violent retaliation ?

For comparison, how about this TEN (10 year ) sentence just imposed on a 65 year old property manager for a $3 MILLION KICKBACK. Offence could have got him 30 YEARS In Florida prison system

NO JAIL for restitution paying co- conspirator ex PRESIDENT OF the condos' BOARD OF DIRECTORS nor for restitution paying suppliers.

Like Father Joe XXXX, Florida property manager Robert Hittner had denied until trial.

( Of course he ain't wearing a clerical collar and hearing confessions. )

South Florida SunSentinel Jan 24/14 “Former Hallandale condo manager gets 10-year sentence in kickback scheme” 20140124,0,1316308.story

( for comparison 2009 Randy Bailey received 30 month sentence )
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is this happening to your orgnization ? 2014/02/26 12:04  
( Ottawa charity’s disgraced ex Finance Chief YOLANDE KNIGHT pleads GUILTY to minimum $900 K credit card fraud over EIGHT YEARS while earning more than $90,000 annual salary. To be sentenced August 2014.

Caught by 2009 audit after years of book- fixing and lies to charity’s Directors )

Citizen Feb 24/14 “Charity’s finance director pleads guilty to $ 900,000 fraud” story.html
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whistleblowers - even the media - face shotgun if daring to denounce a powerful group leader 2014/03/21 11:11  
"a heavy gambler with rich church coffers at his disposal" - the Citizen

Even the sentencing scenario is classic illustration why whistleblowers risk BIG TIME if they denounce a powerful wrongdoer. From the pulpit star Father Joe denied and urged parishioners to retaliate by cancelling their Citizen subscriptions, which hundreds reportedly did !

Never revealed : who/how many had dared to whistle-blow on Father Joe's credit carded gambling. Father Joe's fervent supporters at courtside for his minimal sentence are an indication of the fate that had been risked by any whistleblower(s) dared to be identified.

March 19/14 Father Joe is sentenced by Ontario Court Justice Jack Nadelle to one year jail, one year probation $134 K restitution order with 50 supporters , some blaming Citizen & even the archdiocese

Citizen March 20/14 : “Father Joe LeClair sentenced to one year for stealing from parish”
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from earthly purgatory a ZINGER diffusive response 2015/02/27 12:26  
“I don’t have anything to offer on that.” - from earthly purgatory a ZINGER diffusive response * *

A second chance for a sincerely repentant, imperfect human like all of us. Someone who can still improve the universe. Excellent .

BUT most of Father Joe's defenders still seem oblivious to the BIGGY here ; wearing priestly garb from a pulpit to those who trusted him he "denounced the Citizen from the pulpit and offered blessings on those who cancelled their subscriptions."

He deserves creative credit for this latest diffusive about being caught & jailed : “I don’t have anything to offer on that.” Good diffusive line from someone with the skills & time to soften up an inconvenient, hard past.

Archdiocese now reported to have recovered a good chunk of insurance. Wonder who pays for insurance ?

God help whomever was blowing the whistle from inside his former parish : Feb 25/15 Citizen with warm photo and 21 online comments most of which forgive & defend Father Joe. Commenters still do not address the denunciation & denial from the pulpit wearing priestly garb.

eg “..: As far as I am concerned, the money I put into those baskets was for HIM, not the church, and if it made him happy to spend some of it at the casino, I am glad to have been able to contribute a bit to his happiness - as he did to mine. . . . “

“Father Joe LeClair now working in Moncton diocese”

Feb 27 2015 Citizen - K Egan column” Father Joe gets his second chance — and that's a good thing” good-thing
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another gambling priest / another reminder of the need to properly control condo & HOA funds 2016/03/29 02:59  
March 28/16 ToStar “Money for refugees lost gambling, says Catholic Church in London, Ont.” london-ont.html
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mere 30 months sentence for gambling treasurer 2016/09/24 12:16  
NOT CONDO . . . . But a disturbingly repetitive scenario in volunteer governance : gambler accountant's THIRTY MONTH sentence arrives SIX ( 6 ) years after her slow longtime bleed of entire financial assets. It's discovered only when payment cheques start a-bouncing . . .

She subsequently filed for bankruptcy. Years without an independent audit ? No actual eyeballing of bank statements or voodoo assets ? What the ex-President says . . .

* * * *

The reported 'factuals' not yet at : OVER 5 YEARS SLOW BLEED BY LONGTIME TREASURER compulsive gambler accountant totally empties small Quebec (syndicat) union’s treasury. Sep 2016 30 month sentence imposed on now 72 year old accountant / compulsive gambler former UNION TREASURER 1989-09 Ginette Charest.

Beginning in her early 60s over 5 years 2004-9 gambler bled dry all $ 700 K in her 120 member health employee union’s funds. Discovered only after cheques started a-bouncing. . . .

Sep 22/16 ToStar “Treasurer of Quebec health workers’ union sentenced for fraud. Ginette Charest, 72, handed 30-month sentence for using the funds of the Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la Santé du Québec to gamble at the casino” for-fraud.html
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Cemetery defrauder/ former SMALL CLAIMS Deputy Judge gets house arrest after guilty plea 2017/04/22 13:20  
Even a judge can go astray. If cemetery funds are 'fair game', just how safe are condo/HOA funds entrusted to a big shot ?

A 76 year old former Small Claims Court Deputy Judge gets a year of house arrest for confessed 8 years of embezzlement in charge of a Catholic Cemetery Board whose control he was able to take after period of volunteering.

It's unclear how the fraud was uncovered in 2011. The Church challenged his denials.

The now disbarred former Deputy Judge admits only a quarter million dollar theft from cemetery & Church victims which he promises to reimburse.

April 21/17 Citizen “ year house arrest for former small claims Ottawa judge who stole from Catholic church” stole-from-catholic-church

Jan 19/17 Citizen “Lawyer admits stealing from Catholic church; pleads guilty to theft from St. Patrick's cemetery” to-theft-from-st-patricks-cemetery
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