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Editorials

The theft epidemic: Simple safeguards

| Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, 9:00 p.m.

Embezzlement and other “insider” theft that victimizes professional, fraternal and community organizations have reached epidemic proportions in our region. And too many groups aren't taking steps to safeguard their money from members and leaders who have become common thieves.

In the latest episode, a business education teacher told the Pine-Richland Education Association that he stole $175,000 from the union. While admitting guilt is unusual, this kind of case is all too common:

• A Baldwin Borough man was accused in November of stealing more than $40,000 donated to a VFW post and an American Legion post whose color guard he once led.

• The same month, a Uniontown PTO treasurer was charged with stealing more than $16,000.

• And a Washington County volunteer fire department lost more than $105,000, allegedly to its former president and his girlfriend, its former treasurer.

Clearly, trust is not enough.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale told the Trib on Tuesday that such organizations should take two basic steps:

• Have an independent review of their books done once or twice a year

• Require more than one signature to cash their checks.

There are things “any organization can do,” he says.

That so many do not employ basic financial safeguards is inexplicable and an open invitation to more appalling thefts by insiders.

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