Skip to comments.Church secretary charged with embezzling from Oak Creek parish
Posted on 12/28/2011 10:09:10 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
A church secretary was charged Tuesday with embezzling more than $200,000 from her Oak Creek congregation.
The Milwaukee County district attorney's office accused Darlene Vodvarka, 57, of Oak Creek, of stealing $217,483 over seven years from her employer, St. Matthew Catholic Church, 9303 S. Chicago Road.
Vodvarka, who worked for the church for about 14 years, is charged with two counts of felony theft of more than $10,000. If convicted of both counts, she could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and fined up to $50,000.
A church official had confirmed in September that a theft investigation was under way and that a staff member had been placed on administrative leave during the probe. The church's finance committee had contacted police after uncovering accounting irregularities over the summer, church treasurer Mike Kuick said.
According to the criminal complaint:
The scheme involved payments for "scrip," gift cards that merchants had donated to St. Matthew to sell to raise money for its school.
A volunteer was in charge of collecting the money that parishioners and students' parents had paid for the scrip and for recording the amounts paid. Vodvarka was responsible for depositing that money and the parents' tuition payments in the church's bank account.
Vodvarka bought large quantities of the scrip herself, with personal checks that totaled $225,935 from June 2004 through June 2011. She gave those checks to the volunteer, who recorded the amounts and gave the checks back to Vodvarka to deposit.
But most of Vodvarka's checks never made it to the bank. Bank records show only $8,452 of her checks were deposited in the church's account, allowing her to pocket the difference.
The complaint says Vodvarka tried to cover up the fraud by falsifying the church's books. For example, when she received a tuition check for $2,750, she recorded it as a $750 payment while showing she had purchased $2,000 in scrip.
At the same time, however, the tuition payments were recorded correctly in the church's accounts for each family. That turned out to be the key to uncovering the embezzlement scheme.
Kris Wegner, the church's director of administrative services, said he discovered the discrepancy between the tuition accounts and the cash journal when he was trying to figure out why the school was collecting less tuition than had been budgeted. That led to a thorough review of the church's financial records.
About 10 years ago I had to hire a clerk for my business. Out of 3 candidates, 2 had backgrounds of "theft from employer" and the 3rd was a nutcase. I handle all the money myself, as a consequence. If there is a mistake, I know whom to blame.
A Southeast Wisconsin ping
See comment above: I wonder why there is such a rash of embezzlement going on and why we don’t hear about it more often? One reason, I suppose, it is usually a first offense and usually the punishment is light.
How often is it associated with gambling? That seems to be a thread that runs through many of the cases.
Money can do strange things to people.
Personally, I hate handling it. Years ago, I worked at a furniture store. A man made a 700.00 cash payment. I counted it and another girl sitting with me counted it, right in front of the guy. It was put in the register. I saw her do it.
The next day the money was missing. It was suspected that the girl or I did it. I quit immediately. It was an “in-between” job while I finished school after being laid off from BP America. I wasn’t happy with the suspicion and told the owners that in my letter of resignation.
Two months later, after the other girl quit for the next incident, the manager was fired for embezzlement. He had been taking the money all along.
I don’t like dealing with cash.
As usual gambling debts?
Potawatomie Casino advertises all over the place in M’waukee and Chicago
I came across this little comment on factoid about embezzling when I suspected a woman in our local GOP organization of doing something funny with the money from our club. She was always the one picked to handle the money in every organization where she was a member. Her reports were dreadful; never balanced.
So, one day I googled “embezzle” in the local newspaper. Was I shocked at the number of minor city clerks embezzling the dog license money, church secretaries never getting all of the collections into the bank, PTA presidents taking from the funds to play Bingo at the casinos, and I was amazed at the light sentences given.
The woman I suspected was not listed among the documented cases, so I guess she was just a bad treasurer, but there is a lot of embezzlement going on out there. And a lot of it traces right back to the casinos.
See # 6.
Also, I notice that this person’s scheme revolved around the sale of ‘scrip’. Our church had to stop selling that after Mass on Sundays. They can sell it only from the school office. Our insurance company would not cover it (gift cards & money) being transsfered back and forth. I don’t know if there was a problem, but they can’t do it any more.
We had 7000.00 walk away from a Polish Dance troop we belonged to.
The one that "got" me was the local PTA co-president who absconded with all the school donation funds. She gambled the money away, but she was released to her family and NOTHING was done about her. They just gave her a pass. Then there was the manager of a popular charity around here who skimmed the best furniture from the donations and sold them out the back door and pocketed the money. Of course there were several town and village clerks who pocketed the cash dog license payments. But the MOTHER of all embezzlers was Sujata Sachdeva, VP of the Koss Cororation.
We had $5000.00 “walk away” from our VFW Post in 1999. It was never reported to law enforcement for fear of losing our bingo and liquor licenses.
So much for living lives of stainless integrity.
Up here in the Northwest about fifteen years ago, there was a rash of embezzlement cases. I recall two convenience store managers, at least one church bookkeeper, and I think a motel clerk. But several of them were bookkeepers for the then-burgeoning casinos. I guess it was a combination of the new gambling temptation and the business naivete of the Tribal councils (plus lots of cash changing hands every day).
If it had been, say, a new strain of virus going around so prolifically, they’d have quarantined half the state.
A few years ago I had a job selling swords at a local ren faire. The owner had bought some special software that allowed him to use a desktop PC as a cash register, and was very frustrated that it was off by a few hundred dollars every night, in all 3 locations he sold at. Then I started working there, and my drawer was always accurate to the penny.
It only took 2 counts for him to figure out what was happening.
That’s what everyone has been saying around there. How in the world could the Koss Corp lose $31 million and not miss it? (Sujata Sachdeva).