Charges Coming In Embezzlement

The Brooke County Prosecutor’s Office is expected to file charges within the next week against a former Bethany College employee who allegedly admitted to embezzling more than $500,000 from an office where students and staff cashed checks.

The woman managed the college cashier’s office. Brooke County Prosecutor Joe Barki did not elaborate on how she allegedly embezzled the money, but said more information will be available when charges are formally filed within the next week.

The former employee is one of three people being targeted by investigators. Barki said authorities are also investigating two local Ohio residents.

He declined to name the other suspects or say exactly where they live in Ohio, but noted they are not tied to the college.

According to a statement released Tuesday by Bethany President Scott Miller, “Investigators quickly determined that the systematic thefts from the cash window were linked to ongoing criminal activity in Ohio and authorities there have now acted to seize some assets.”

As far as how the other two suspects are tied to the former employee and the alleged embezzlement, Barki only said the Ohio residents are “suspected of being involved in a criminal enterprise that reaches into Brooke County.” He also noted his office has worked with multiple law enforcement agencies during the investigation.

U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II declined to comment on the case.

The college discovered the missing money in late May during an external audit. They suspected the woman and moved her to another position in the finance department. She continued to work, but did not have access to cash or financial accounts, said Bethany Vice President Sven deJong.

She confessed to embezzling the funds in an interview with the school’s legal counsel and outside accountants about two months after the money was noticed to be missing, according to deJong. Her employment immediately was terminated and the case was referred to Barki’s office.

When asked if the woman confessed to the crime, Barki said she “made statements consistent with what she told” Bethany.

Miller said no student or employee funds were impacted, and the college expects to recover the majority of the loss through criminal prosecution and insurance.

DeJong said $1.7 million flowed through the cashier’s office during the last fiscal year, which ended June 30.

The college has used the cash window since the 1960s as a remedy for the lack of banks near campus, deJong said. It since has been closed and replaced with other banking services.