Monday, February 2, 2015

Virginia Woman Pleads Guilty To Embezzling $135K From Local SPCA

From the Virginian-Pilot on 1/30/2015:

A former bookkeeper for the Norfolk Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals stole more than $135,000 from the organization and used some of the money to buy a purebred English bulldog, according to court documents.

Her original two dogs? She dropped them off at an SPCA shelter.

Kimberly A. Raeburn, 43, now of Ohio, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Norfolk Circuit Court to 10 counts of felony embezzlement. She is to be sentenced May 15.

“What she did is a horrible affront to anyone who cares about animals and, of course, the animals themselves,” said Norfolk SPCA Executive Director Rob Blizard, noting the total loss to the organization could have paid for multiple employees and numerous outreach efforts.

“We are very eager to see her get a very lengthy sentence,” he said in a phone interview Thursday.
Public defender Stephen Burgess, Raeburn’s attorney, said his client had “some difficulties in her personal life that caused her to act in a way she probably realizes she shouldn’t have.”

“She is very remorseful,” he added.

According to documents filed in Norfolk Circuit Court, the embezzlement happened from January 2009 to July 2010, while Raeburn kept the organization’s books.

Staffers who worked in the veterinary clinic and with pet adoptions were supposed to collect cash and checks, tabulate the day’s take and turn the proceeds over to Raeburn. In turn, Raeburn was supposed to track the amounts in the organization’s accounting software and take the deposits to the bank.

A 2010 audit determined Raeburn’s deposits were regularly short when compared to the amount the other staff members reported. The shortages temporarily stopped when Raeburn went on maternity leave and permanently stopped after she was fired, the documents said.

Raeburn deposited more than $108,000 in cash into her bank account while serving as bookkeeper, court documents said. The total loss from the scheme was $135,563, documents said.

Several employees donated their time as a result of the organization’s financial shortages to make sure the animals were properly cared for at the shelter. Insurance covered $100,000 of the losses.
While stealing from the organization, Raeburn spent money freely, according to court documents. Among other things, she took a first-class trip to Las Vegas, flew her family into town for the holidays, bought a motorcycle for her boyfriend and purchased several appliances and televisions.
Raeburn also regularly treated co-workers to lunch and paid them to dog sit and help her move.

Raeburn told her co-workers that she earned additional income as a secret shopper online and told her boyfriend she had money in savings, documents said.

Burgess questioned whether his client did and said some of the things referenced in the stipulation of facts drafted by the prosecution, which represents the evidence they would have presented at trial. He said it was clear from the police investigation his client stole the money in question.

“The rest of it,” he said, “I’m not completely sure of.”

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