The negative effects of fraud are often felt with a unique degree of intensity when embezzlement occurs in a small, close-knit community. A recent case brought into sharp relief the need for accounts payable audits even among organizations with the leanest staffs.
The Associated Press reported that Michelle Rutledge of Duxbury, Vt., had been accused of embezzling about $120,000 in funds from a local youth hockey association and her employer, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, a locally owned business based in Waterbury, Vt.
According to the Times Argus, court records named Rutledge as the long-time bookkeeper and office manager of the cider mill and treasurer at Friends of Harwood Hockey since 2011. Cold Hollow Cider Mill owner Paul Brown expressed his confusion and disappointment over Rutledge's alleged actions, which include using the business's credit card for unauthorized personal purchases and routing funds to her accounts via electronic transfer.
"Michelle Rutledge was the first person we hired after we bought the cider mill in 2000. … When somebody whom we know and trust takes advantage of our trust it threatens our belief in the values that we all share," Brown wrote in a statement, according to the news source.
Hopefully, the case will encourage more businesses to adopt audit solutions to prevent similar abuses.