Thursday, March 1, 2012



By: Terri Talley Venters

Mary volunteered diligently at the Foundation for Hodgkin’s Disease. Her skills with accounting and Quick books made her an invaluable resource to the charitable organization.

Mary prayed for the families of these cancer patients. Although the chemotherapy administered to her beloved husband proved ineffective, she prayed these cancer patients saw more successful results than her dearly departed, Daniel.

Nearly ten years had elapsed since her husband’s untimely death at the age of thirty four. She threw her grief into her prayers and received her calling. She started volunteering her services at the Foundation as a form of penance. Not penance for her, but penance for the foundation.

The doctors at the foundation assured her of Daniels’s admittance into the clinical trial for the break-though cancer drug. However, some bureaucratic bullshit kept him out of the trials and he passed away as a result of the foundation’s crucial mistake. Mary hated the foundation ever since, and started taking her revenge the first week she started volunteering.

Mary entered the dummy invoices she created into Quick Books. The foundation spent so much money on lab work, that another $9,000 every week went unnoticed. Using the software, she made the checks payable to the bogus lab company. But instead of printing the checks as written in Quick Books, she hand wrote the actual checks, made payable to herself.

She knew the names of the payee didn’t appear on the bank statements. Besides, she was the only one who looked at the statements anyway, Mary’s scheme worked as long as no one reviewed copies of the cancelled checks. The Foundation’s Board of Director’s only looked at the account balance online and reviewed the financial statements which she prepared monthly. As long as the cash balance per bank reconciled with the balance per books, no questions arose.

Her prior career as a CPA made her an invaluable, “free resource” to the foundation. She did everything on the financial side. It surprised her to learn no one ever reviewed her work at all. The frugality of the board to pay anyone, combined with Mary’s trusting appearance, raised no cause for concern or the hiring an Independent Auditor.

Going to the bank weekly to deposit the fraudulent checks proved easy. Given her occupation and work attire, no one questioned her large deposits each week. Mary applauded her brilliance for making each check just under $10,000. The bank only reported deposits in excess of $10,000 to the IRS. She never even paid taxes on her ill-gotten gains, just on the interest it earned.

It only took a few years to accumulate enough to run away with. She could’ve stopped years ago when her account balance fell just short of two million dollars, but she couldn’t stop. Just one more check and she’d make her escape. Now she prayed, not for stealing from a charitable foundation, but prayed her greed didn’t get her caught.

“Sister Mary, we need to talk,” the priest said, staring at the nun who’d embezzled millions.

“Yes, Father Dean?” Mary asked. She stood up, adorned in the traditional black habit. She saw two strange men standing authoritatively next to the priest. Mary grasped her crucifix necklace, silently praying for forgiveness.

“Sister Mary, would you like me to hear your confession before these gentlemen question you about the foundation’s finances?” the priest asked in his kind and gentle manner.

“Yes, Father Dean,” Mary said, looking down shamefully for what she’d done.

“Don’t worry, Mary,” Father Dean said, looking at his favorite Nun through disappointed, yet forgiving eyes. “You will serve a steep penance, but you will be forgiven. If I had a nickel for every time someone broke the eighth commandment, Thou Shall Not Steal.”