Twain House Troubles

The feds say an employee at the Mark Twain House embezzled more than $1 million from the non-profit over the course of a decade.

The press release is below.

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Connecticut
August 5, 2011
Tom Carson
Public Information Office
(203) 821-3722
(203) 996-1393 (cell)
        David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that DONNA GREGOR, 58, of East Hartford, waived her right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before Senior United States District Judge Warren W. Eginton in Bridgeport to one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return.  The charges stem from GREGOR’s embezzlement of more than $1 million from the Mark Twain House & Museum.
        “This case represents a breach of trust by a long-term employee of the Mark Twain House & Museum, a venerable Hartford landmark and institution of learning,” said U.S. Attorney Fein.  “Individuals who steal from employers that rely so heavily on the contributions of individuals to operate are, in effect, stealing directly from those contributors.  As a result, we will strongly advocate not only for an appropriate prison term, but also for restitution of the stolen funds.”
        According to court documents and statements made in court, between 2002 and 2010, GREGOR employed two different schemes to defraud the Mark Twain House.  In the first scheme, GREGOR submitted false information via the Internet to the Mark Twain House’s payroll management vendor in order to receive, as a direct deposit in her personal bank account, an additional amount of pay to which she was not entitled.  Specifically, GREGOR provided the payroll management vendor with the amounts she was to be issued as “payroll advances.”  The vendor then sent the amounts to her via direct deposit.  GREGOR then adjusted the general ledger to hide the payroll advances by reclassifying the amounts as utilities, maintenance, and similar items.  GREGOR also falsified the Mark Twain House’s bank statements to hide the advances.    In the second scheme, GREGOR used the Mark Twain House’s check-writing system to write checks payable to herself, forged the signature of her supervisors on those checks, and deposited those funds in her personal bank account.  GREGOR also adjusted journal entries in the general ledger and falsified the bank statements in order to hide the fraudulently prepared checks.
        Through these schemes, GREGOR embezzled approximately $1,080,811.76 from the Mark Twain House.  She used the proceeds of her theft for, among other things, home improvements, theater tickets, dining out, mortgage payments, credit card payments and car payments.
        GREGOR also failed to pay federal taxes on the funds that she embezzled.  For the 2002 through 2010 tax years, this resulted in an underpayment of $322,970 to the Internal Revenue Service.
        Judge Eginton has scheduled sentencing for October 24, 2011, at which time GREGOR faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 23 years and fine of up to approximately $2 million.  GREGOR also will be ordered to pay restitution to the Mark Twain House and to the insurance company that has paid the Mark Twain House $500,000 as a result of the loss.  GREGOR also will be ordered to pay full restitution to the IRS, plus applicable interest and penalties.
        This matter was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation with assistance from the Hartford Police Department and the Mark Twain House & Museum.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth A. Latif.

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