Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kearney School Foundation Embezzlement Scandal
Highlights Need for Fiscal Oversight

The financial credibility of Nebraska educators sure took a big kick in the pants this week as a school foundation chief in Kearney pleaded no contest to felony theft and faces up to 20 years in prison for embezzling over a half-million dollars within three years.

The case of Angela Regenos should alert board members of Nebraska's several public school foundations to immediately order an outside audit of their books. And if any financial corruption is found, the people responsible should immediately be prosecuted or made to resign, and the money replaced.

School foundations are supposed to collect tax-deductible donations to use for education-related benefits that there are no tax revenues to support. Usually, foundations provide scholarships for student leaders and help with special projects such as performing arts centers and extras for athletics. They typically subsidize before- and after-school programs for low-income students whose parents can’t pay the full freight.

In Kearney, Mrs. Regenos admitted to embezzling $577,277 from 2005 to 2008, the three years for which the Nebraska statute of limitations permits her to be prosecuted. Kearney officials claim nearly $300,000 more was filched dating back to 2001.

The 46-year-old has told authorities that she forged signatures, altered bank records, gave misleading financial statements and incorrect information to accountants, and used the ill-gotten lucre to buy jewelry and other goods.

The district is suing her and has cashed in an insurance policy to recover $250,000.

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And if you suspect a foundation or other ed-related nonprofit might be experiencing financial corruption because of a huge disparity between revenues received and services delivered, you can get a good start on looking in to your concerns on this website, which provides a peek at IRS Form 990’s for nonprofits:


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Everything has to be audited these days. Casino gambling has greatly increased embezzlement. Performance audits by outside firms can not only uncover outright theft, but also questionable expenditures, such as lavish "retreats" large gifts for employees, flying first class, five star hotels, "junkets" , etc.
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