Catholic School Employee Charged with Embezzlement

Catholic School Employee Charged with Embezzlement

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Stacey Butler reporting It's the latest in a recent string of embezzlement cases. A volunteer employee of a Salt Lake City Catholic School is charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a school fund.

Police say Stephanie Obert was volunteering as the treasurer here at St. Anne's school when she used her authority to withdraw 25 thousand dollars from the school's account.

Yet another crime where a trusted employee allegedly steals from an employer--a crime that's becoming all too common.

For two years, police say Stephanie Obert stole from St. Anne's school while she volunteered as a treasurer.

Kent Morgan/Salt Lake Co. District Attorney's Office: "During that period of time, she wrote checks to the tune of 26 thousand dollars to her own account."

According to a charging statement filed today, Obert admitted to writing the checks from the Home and School Association Account, and falsifying the records to cover her tracks.

It's the third such case in just one week. Remember the two Wells Fargo employees who are suspected of taking 90 thousand dollars from customers' accounts to pay for lavish lifestyles they couldn't afford?

Just yesterday an accounts payable manager with Evans and Sutherland was charged with writing himself checks for more than 40 thousand dollars to pay off home repairs and credit card debt.

Those who knew the treasurer of St. Anne's school say she too was heavily in debt. We know that tough economic times have fueled high bank bankruptcy rates, but are they fueling a new trend in fraud?

Kent Morgan: "We tend to have higher credit card debt and higher overall debt. When this happens, people get squeezed down to that last 40 or 50 dollars on the paycheck, it makes people a little more desperate than they otherwise would be."

The District Attorney's Office says as businesses tighten their belts, accounting practices are scrutinized and financial crimes involving unscrupulous employees surface.

Kent Morgan: “I am very unoptimistic that we have seen the last one of these. These are just going to continue to pop up."

Like the others charged with stealing from their employers, Stephanie Obert faces fraud and theft charges and has no prior criminal history.

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