Executive director accused in nonprofit embezzlement case

When it comes to nonprofit organizations, keeping to a budget is crucial. In order to serve communities to the best of their abilities, these entities should employ the best fund tracking systems and as many safeguards as possible. Alongside essential tools like advanced accounting software, accounts payable audits can play a critical role in protecting businesses not only from mistakes but from fraud as well.

The Wilkes Journal-Patriot recently reported that former executive director of North Carolina's Historic Downtown North Wilkesboro Inc. (HDTNW) Aisha Little is accused of embezzling approximately $46,000 from her employer. She had been hired in 2010 for part-time work, but was at the organization close to full-time by the point she resigned in the wake of an AP audit.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the HDTNW sponsors community activities in North Wilkesboro, including programs that promote local businesses and tourism in the area. The source noted that the group's annual budget is only $60,000.

A separate article from the same newspaper noted that an investigation found 274 unauthorized transactions possibly stemming from Little's misconduct. As one of the leaders in the organization, she had access to an official checking account. Some time after she began work, she started writing fraudulent checks and making inappropriate ATM withdrawals, itemized by the Wilkes County Clerk of Court to reflect purchases of mainly food and household bills.

In order to cover up the embezzlement, Little forged bank statements and took advantage of her role as the primary contact for financial institutions servicing the HDTNW.

In many cases, AP audits can play a role in preventing abuses of power. Though it may be difficult to do in some instances where fraud is connected to high-ranking individuals, bringing in an objective third party can shed light on discrepancies and make potential embezzlers think twice before exploiting privileges. 

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