Ripped off by one of your own
It takes a lot of chutzpah – and no shame – to steal from your own agency
By Art Hsieh
No one gets into EMS to be rich. The vast majority are here to perform a service to our community, to do the so-called right thing. Most volunteer agencies across the country run on shoestring budgets and keep the doors open through donations, limited government funding and sheer goodwill.
Then, you have certain ... individuals who somehow rationalized that it was justified to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from their organization and use it for their personal gain. I just don't get it.
In a perverted way, I can see how the situation might have evolved, if the money had been used to support a drug habit or to pay off loan sharks. But going to Disney World? Niagara Falls? That's just plain selfish.
All agencies must have a series of checks and balances in place to keep unethical behavior at bay. In some ways the organization that was affected was a victim of its own complacency. It simply should not have been that easy to have its funds stolen without anyone noticing. Were there two individual signatures on each transaction? Is there a third-party auditor on the bank statements? What about monthly treasurer reports? Especially in a volunteer-based nonprofit organization, all things financial should be very transparent.
Regardless, it's sad that an organization may end up closing its doors because of a few individuals who sought to pad their own bank accounts at the expense of others. I can only hope the situation helps draw lessons for other agencies to keep this from happening again.