A woman's claims that she graduated from a Northern Virginia university triggered an investigation that led to her arrest on criminal charges.
The woman, 33, allegedly spent the past 13 years working as an administrator at a nonprofit organization that helps the developmentally disabled in a nearby area. The executive director of the agency said he began to suspect her of wrongdoing earlier this year when he mentioned to an employee at George Mason University that the woman had earned master's and doctorate degrees there. The employee of the Fairfax, Virginia, university cast doubt on the woman's degrees.
The executive director then put the woman on administrative leave and requested proof of her degrees, which were not a job requirement. She quit two days later.
Once the agency learned about her alleged lies, the staff starting looking into her work as the associate executive director for residential services, concentrating on her oversight of funds. The agency hired a pair of auditors, who said they discovered as much as $166,000 missing. The money was supposed to be spent for the organization's group homes and its residents.
The organization turned over the report from its auditors to authorities on May 8, and the federal government filed wire fraud charges against the woman two weeks later. The federal investigation uncovered at least $136,000 in misused funds, according to the records in the case.
Authorities allege that the woman used a credit card issued to her by the organization for her personal purchases.
Longtime co-workers expressed shock at her arrest. The executive director who requested the investigation said she had been a valued and trustworthy employee who did good work. The head of the board of directors said the charges were devastating.
The woman, who was released from jail pending further proceedings, might want to call on those co-workers to testify as to her good character if the case goes to trial.
Source: The Gazette, "Former Prince George's nonprofit administrator accused of theft," Daniel J. Gross, May 31, 2012