Tuesday, December 16, 2014

North Carolina Woman Sentenced To 5 1/2 Years For Embezzling $170K From Non-Profit

From the Winston-Salem Journal on 12/16/2014:

A former director at The Enrichment Center embezzled nearly $170,000 from Social Security funds to buy a laptop for her daughter, a car for her fiancé and to pay rent for one of her church members, federal prosecutors alleged in court documents.

Cynthia Gray Wrenn, 52, of Winston-Salem was sentenced to a total of five years and six months Thursday in U.S. District Court in Greensboro. U.S. District Judge William Osteen Jr. ordered her to be placed on three years of supervised release after she gets out of prison. Wrenn is scheduled to report to prison on Jan. 29. She pleaded guilty in September to three federal charges of an 11-count indictment alleging that she had embezzled and misused money for her own benefit. As a condition of the plea arrangement, the rest of the charges were voluntarily dismissed.
The Enrichment Center has a contract with the Social Security Administration. The nonprofit receives money from Social Security to help 300 Forsyth County residents pay their bills and other expenses, according to court documents. The money is put in a trust account, from which The Enrichment Center issues checks. Many of the clients have mental health disorders, such as dementia, and are unable to handle their finances.
Wrenn was the director of the Representative Payee Program at The Enrichment Center. One of her responsibilities was to request checks from the nonprofit’s finance department for individual clients.
But Wrenn stole the money and used it to help herself and her family, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Hamilton alleged in court papers.
Wrenn stole $167,534, Hamilton said in court documents. Investigators identified 42 victims.
Federal indictments allege that she embezzled money from Social Security from Dec. 29, 2010, to Aug. 16, 2013.
The criminal investigation of Wrenn started in August 2013 after The Enrichment Center received a letter from QVC, the home shopping network. The letter included an uncashed check for $1,508.58 that had been returned because the shipping address didn’t match that of The Enrichment Center. The letter was addressed to Wrenn’s daughter, and the center’s internal records showed that the check was issued to buy a laptop for a client. QVC records showed that the account number for the order belonged to Wrenn’s daughter and the shipping address matched that of Wrenn’s daughter, according to court documents.
The Enrichment Center conducted an investigation and then contacted Winston-Salem police. The investigation found that about $118,000 had been deposited in Wrenn’s bank account at Allegacy Federal Credit Union.
According to court documents, Wrenn had The Enrichment Center issue a check in November 2012 for $5,102 that was payable to “Jerry Hunt,” which turned out to be Jerry Hunt Auto Sales in Lexington. The money was used to buy a car for Wrenn’s fiancĂ©e at the time, court documents say.
Wrenn asked another check to be issued, also in November 2012, that was payable to “Evans Properties.” That check, according to court documents, was used to pay the rent for a member of Wrenn’s church.
Hamilton also alleged that in 2013 Wrenn misappropriated Social Security money to pay for a hospital bill and her daughter’s insurance policy. Hamilton alleged that Wrenn mislead center officials, telling them that checks issued to Allegacy would be used to buy debit cards for clients. But the checks were deposited into Wrenn’s personal account.


Read the whole story here.

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