Charity worker pleads guilty to embezzlement charges

A former official of an Evansville, Indiana-based Masonic women's organization recently pleaded guilty to the embezzlement of nearly $300,000 from the entity with the help of an accomplice. With more effective audit solutions, the organization may be able to prevent similar events in the future. 

According to the Evansville Courier & Press, Susan Hilgeman and her mother, Marilee Garrison, had both served as officers of the Order of the Eastern Star. Together, Hilgeman and Garrison conspired to steal money left to the organization as part of a gift from a local philanthropist's estate. By writing unauthorized checks to themselves as well as to each other, the women succeeded in the embezzlement of $290,000, which the news source reported they hid using fraudulent bank statements.

Hilgeman faces between two and eight years in prison for a conspiracy charge, as well as between six months and three years for a forgery charge.

The Associated Press noted that members of the Order of the Eastern Star had contacted the police about suspicious expenditures nearly two years ago. Hilgeman and her mother were arrested in April 2012.

It is essential for organizations of all kinds to have comprehensive audit solutions in place. When leaders are better able to track funds, they reduce the likelihood that insiders will be able to successfully drain large sums of money.

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