Woman charged with stealing money from child abuse prevention charity

Woman charged with stealing money from child abuse prevention charity

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OGDEN -- A woman has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a charity devoted to preventing child abuse in Utah.

Weber County prosecutors charged Teresa Burns, 40, on Monday with communications fraud, theft and forgery, all third-degree felonies. She is accused of stealing money from Prevent Child Abuse Utah, where she worked as an administrative assistant.

According to a police affidavit filed with the charges, a bookkeeper at the nonprofit discovered forged checks and documents after Burns had given notice in April that she was quitting her job. Police said two checks were on the books as being made out to the Worker's Compensation Fund, when in reality they had been made out to a law office to pay off a pair of garnishments.

"Burns had disguised the checks in the QuickBooks accounting program, making the checks appear to have been issued for legitimate Prevent Child Abuse Utah business and forged the signatures of the PCAU staff and board members to the checks and garnishment documents," Ogden police detective Rick Childress wrote.

When confronted by her bosses, Childress said in the affidavit that Burns told them "it is something I did."

"When asked why, Burns said 'tough times' and there was nothing else she could say," Childress wrote. "Burns was fired and escorted off the property."

Reed Richards, an attorney and volunteer with Prevent Child Abuse Utah called the case "unfortunate."

"All of these nonprofits struggle day-to-day to survive in economic times like this," he said, adding praise to the accountant who discovered the financial discrepancies

In an audit, Prevent Child Abuse Utah said it discovered additional forged checks and fraudulent credit card charges. Prosecutors leveled eight felony charges against Burns, who was arrested late-last week and booked into the Weber County Jail.

According to court records, during an appearance Wednesday in 2nd District Court, Burns was told to hire an attorney and bail was set at $5,000. She is due back in court on July 21.

E-mail: bwinslow@ksl.com

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