Late 2008 and 2009 (so far) may go down in history as one of the worst times nonprofit organizations have had in terms of thievery. The daily Boston Criminal Law Blog has spent a great deal of time discussing the Bernie Madoff nightmare as well as other white collar fiasco’s which have targeted individuals as well as charities.
Here’s another one for your collection.
Last Tuesday, Andrew M., 33, of Weymouth (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) was sentenced to two years in prison by federal court judge George A. O’Toole. He has been convicted on Massachusetts white collar crimes of stealing $130,202 from a non-profit Boston community health center over a two-year period. Specifically, he pleaded guilty to embezzling the money from Dimock Community Health Center Boston in October, 2008.
After he has served his time in custody, the Defendant will begin a three years of supervised probation.
As you may recall from earlier postings, the crime of embezzlement involves the intentionally mishandling of funds entrusted to you for your own personal gain. In the Defendant’s case, his duties had required him to maintain various financial accounts that included checking, savings, money market and payroll for Dimock. He was also responsible for conducting daily cash transactions for business purposes, maintaining financial reports and cash deposit slips.
Not a bad job for a guy who already had an extensive criminal record.
Prosecutors alleged that the Defendant embezzled and stole the funds from the nonprofit, which serves the neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester. They say that he stole cash from Dimock’s cashier’s office, used a Dimock debit card to make cash withdrawals at area casinos, and used Dimock’s debit card to buy items for his personal use, including purchases such as electronics and jewelry. He tried to conceal his fraud by making bogus entries on accounting reports. He also allegedly altered the printouts of Dimock’s financial records to make the altered bank account statements appear legitimate.
As one would expect in such cases the investigation in this matter did not occur overnight. It also was not a one-agency inquiry. It was conducted the Boston Police Department, the U.S. Office of Inspector General and the state’s health and human services department. It was then brought to court by the United States Attorney’s Office, specifically, the Economic Crimes Unit.
So, what does one say in this day and age to combat these allegations?
Well, according to his attorney, the Defendant has offered a medical rationale. No, not simply the usual famed “insanity defense”. Rather, he claims that a brain tumor had impaired his ability to distinguish the difference between right and wrong at the time he committed the crimes.
Prosecutors noted that, for a guy with diminished capacity, his mind (brain tumor and all) worked out all the financial and fraudulent calculations pretty well. They argued that the Defendant’s actions required “diligent and systematic” calculations.
“The bulk of his activity was planned (and) he went to great lengths to cover up his transactions,” said the Government. “The defendant’s conduct was egregious. For the defendant to steal that much money from a community organization is really beyond the pale.”
The federal prosecutor also pointed out that Dimock is having difficulty raising funds since the Defendant was charged with theft.
In the battle of sentencing, the Defendant’s wife offered sort of a morality-based guilty plea of her own as she asked the court to impose a limited sentence. She told the court that it was her materialistic values that pressured her husband to steal.
“I hear him say every day that he hates himself for his actions,” she explained. “He doesn’t intend to do harm.”
When it came to his turn, the Defendant told the court, “I’m deeply sorry for the actions that brought me here today,”
Attorney Sam’s Take:
The Defendant has beaten a few of the odds against him already.
First of all, with the various charges against him, he could have been sentenced to upwards of 10 years imprisonment. This is especially true given the sensitivity toward these types of crimes these days.
Second of all, it is noteworthy that he had the job in the first place. As it turns out, the Defendant had already had an extensive criminal record before this case…which perhaps indicates that the SEC, presently under fire for the Madoff catastrophe, is not the only entity not exactly looking as closely as it should when it comes to regulating or hiring.
It would appear, however, that the Defendant’s luck is about to end.
First of all, as he slept, unaware that law enforcement was studying him, a criminal prosecution was mounting, getting ready to pounce.
Also, one would imagine that, especially given the publicity the matter has received, his career is over…which, assuming his wife is telling the truth…means that the marriage is about to be in trouble.
You may think that a theft is a theft and that such a crime is not all that complicated. Actually, you would be incorrect. There are various kinds of theft crimes and they are often treated differently from one another. For example, had the felonies facing the Defendant been of a more violent nature (such as a burglary or robbery), he would have been looking at higher potential sentences.
Typically, such crimes are prosecuted in state, not federal, court. The difference in this case was that the Dimock program is a program that receives federal funds. Therefore, the federal prosecutors had jurisdiction to prosecute.
The only question which remains is that of the Defendant’s “defense”. On one hand, he says he did not know right from wrong…which would apparently have been for a limited time, because he seems to indicate such knowledge at sentencing. On the other hand, his wife claims it was her fault because of her priorities…which has its own contradictory bits of information given that she says he has bemoaning his guilty feelings (again, indicating his knowledge of right and wrong have returned). On yet another hand…he is admitting that he took steps to hide what he was doing when he was doing it…indicating a certain knowledge that what he was doing was wrong.
I find that one consistent explanation is usually the best defense…but maybe that’s just me.
The full article of this story can be found at http://www.wickedlocal.com/weymouth/news/x1732142241/Weymouth-man-convicted-of-stealing-from-non-profit and http://www.patriotledger.com/business/x1459490855/Business-in-Brief