Sunday, November 18, 2007

US Adoption Agency Employee Charged with Defrauding Agency of More than Half-a-Million Dollars

A 60 year old woman has been charged with fifteen counts of federal mail fraud and five counts of tax evasion after a Federal investigation revealed that she allegedly stole $600,000 dollars from her employer, the Florence Crittenton Adoption Agency in Lowell, Massachuseutts. According to the Federal prosecutor and investigators, the theft took place over eight years, from December 1998 through April 2006.

Natalie Fleury, who was employed as an office manager and bookkeeper, allegedly "altered checks the agency was issuing to a third-party vendor, made herself the payee, and deposited the checks into a joint checking account she shared with her husband.

Her husband, Thomas E. Fleury, Sr., also 60, who "allegedly also benefited from the proceeds of the fraud," also failed to report the illegal income on the couple's tax returns; he, like his wife, has consequently been indicted with five counts of tax evasion.

The Florence Crittenton Adoption Agency, a private agency located in Lowell, Massachusetts is celebrating its one hundredth anniversary this year. It places about 30 to 40 children per year through international adoption. The board of directors of the agency posted a press release on the Internet after the indictments were made public, part of which is quoted below:

"Today's action by the US Attorney's Office is the latest step in a process that began in April 2006 when a theft from the agency was first discovered. Since that time, this board has been working diligently to assist in the federal investigation; to put in place accounting safeguards to prevent future thefts; and to take whatever steps are necessary to recover the missing funds.

...The board of directors has implemented numerous safeguards to prevent any future theft through the misappropriation of agency funds. Those steps include new financial procedures, certified by an independent accounting expert, that include better oversight by multiple parties and duplicative sign-off on spending from only a single account. In addition, an executive board closely reviews monthly financial statements.

....It was perhaps our focus on families, and not finances, that provided the opportunity for this violation of trust

...We thank the US Attorney's Office and the US Postal Inspectors who answered our call for assistance and worked tirelessly and professionally in the pursuit of justice. We thank our families and our friends for their continued support as we navigate the agency through this difficult period."
The moral of the story...Money must be watched closely if it is not to have a life of its own apart from its original intended use. If it takes extreme diligence here in this country within a small agency to keep money where its supposed to be and working for its intended use, how much more difficult it is to keep money where its supposed to be and working for its original intended use--and not another--overseas with partner agencies and IA facilitators.


Woman is accused of defrauding agency, The Boston Globe, 16 November 2007

Couple accused in fraud, tax evasion,, 16 November 2007

Chelmsford woman charged with stealing $600K from adoption charity, The Boston Globe, 15 November 2007

Statement from The Florence Crittenton Adoption Agency: ADOPTION AGENCY CARRIES ON DESPITE THEFT, ADOPTIONS UNAFFECTED; Press Release: Statement of the Board of Directors of the Florence Crittenton League Adoption Agency, November 2007

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