Ex-union worker faces embezzlement charges

When reports of fraud finally become public knowledge, it's often stunning how long the alleged perpetrators were able to go on with their schemes without being caught or impeded. Without the most effective audit solutions in place, however, it can be quite difficult to detect when employees and officials are misusing funds, as a recent case made clear.

According to the Star Gazette, Amy Wales of Owego, N.Y., was recently accused of defrauding the employees' union to which she belonged by stealing $51,065 over a year-long period from June 2012 to June 2013. The allegedly embezzled funds belonged to the Owego-Appalachi​n Employees Association, where Wales held the position of treasurer. The 45-year-old woman's regular job is as a typist and clerk at a local school's athletics department.

Allegedly, Wales stole the money directly from the OAEA's bank accounts for personal gain, the news source reported. The alleged scheme eventually came to the attention of the union, and the organization's officials subsequently called upon the assistance of the Tioga County Sheriff's Office.

"Our union is committed to the highest standards of professional and personal integrity and takes very seriously the collection and oversight of member dues. The OAEA will continue to assist authorities with this investigation when called upon to do so," the organization's president, Jim Miller, said in a statement, according to the Star Gazette.

The Associated Press reported that local law enforcement carried out a three-month investigation prior to Wales being formally charged with the alleged crimes. She recently appeared for arraignment and will return to court on Dec. 17.

The Star Gazette noted that the offense of which Wales has been accused warranted a charge of second-degree grand larceny, a felony. 

By implementing accounts payable audits, organizations can feel more confident that the staff whom they give access to company financials aren't exploiting the trust implicit in that responsibility. 

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