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Bill H.

We need some legal help...

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We recently found out that earlier in the Spring our Treasurer took out some $$ in addition to gas money for taking the kids back and forth to daycamp. Come to find out (a lot later) her van broke down and she got it fixed with the pack money. I don't know yet how much the cost was,(I wasn't an active part of the pack at the time) but she never even gave the other leaders the opportunity to vote on it.

What got us to pay attention was a ball game we were all supposed to go to. She was supposed to purchase $100 worth of discounted box tickets for everyone to go. A few people were trying to get ahold of her to find out where and when to meet, but she never returned any calls. Then, after the game day, she calls and says the pack had to eat the tickets since no one showed up....Well, that set my wife off. My wife called the teams office and found out the tickets were never purchased.

We called the bank tonight and found out that she's taken out anouther $300 since June. The only activity that's gone on for the pack since then was a leaders breakfast at Denny's to discuss this years plans, and there was only 3 people at that meeting!!!

We've talked to our Executive Councilman big title guy...the only paid pro Scout around here, and he suggests small claims court....which we have to pay for out of our own pocket!?!? That kills me, I thought there would be more the BSA could do!

Would it be better to just call the cops and try to press charges against her?? What would our chances be in small claims court? She say's she's lost a lot of her reciepts. I'd think pretty good knowing that!

When she took over two years ago, there was over $1000 dollars in the packs account, now there's just under $400.

Any suggestions?

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This may be a reason that GSUSA looks a troops finances every year.

 

If Judge Wopner is any indication, you'd have a good chance in small claims court. If she doesn't have any paperwork to back up her expenses, she won't be able to show that she deserved the money.

 

Based on conversations that I've had with a client who is a former Assistant DA, you might want to discuss the situation with some one in the DA's office or the police fraud department to see if they'd even do anything in such a situation (mom, apple pie, boy scouts, etc.)

 

Have you revoked her check writing priveleges?

 

A couple decades ago, the treasurer of my referee association "borrowed" $15,000 to start a business with the intent of paying it back before he needed to write checks to pay the officials. Well, the business folded and he couldn't put the money back into the account. Oops. He went to jail.

 

Good luck. It sucks when someone that you trusted steals from you.

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Count yourself fortunate that the loss is no greater. Unless you have a parent who is an attorney willing to follow up at no cost, it probably is not worth your trouble to go to small claims. I think a more fruitful approach would be to take her off the account immediately and do an audit as best you can. Have somebody with people skills sit down with her, with at least one other person present, to see what she has to say. I think the best you might hope for is to get a note from her for an agreed amount with fixed payment terms. She doesn't sound like a skilled crook but more like somebody in over her head. She might easily agree to a settlement out of a sense of shame. If she fails to honor the note in the future then you have something more solid to take to court. A good lawyer can draw this note up in ways that will make it much easier to enforce. This approach will be less ugly, less draining for everybody, and more likely to get at least some money back.

 

This sad tale illustrates forcefully why BSA recommends dual signatures for unit bank accounts.

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1. Is she willing to pay back the funds, all or partial within a reasonable time? Interest?

 

2. You will need to notify the CO and COR about this. Also, get an audit on your pack's account. Get the checkbook and her off the account now. Stop reading this and call, then return. Welcome back, You may procede with criminal charges, embezzlement or larceny of private funds. The police will take the case. Let this "lady" know your committee's thoughts, wishes, and actions if it cannot be resolved.

 

3. Call an emergency meeting of the committee, get it all on the table and explore all avenues. At a minimum, get an audit and review the entire account. You may or may not be able to get all the money back depending on the records of deposits and withdrawls.

 

4. Every pack meeting have a treasures' report and offer the checkbook with receipts for review. There are no secrets here.

 

(This message has been edited by Double Eagle)

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Your first step should be to keep any more funds from disappearing. All checks should be collected immediately and the signature card changed to remove the treasurer's authority. If this cannot be done immediately, someone authorized to sign checks should remove the remaining funds from the account and open a new account. All bank records should be reviewed, if they can be obtained from the teasurer, and if not, order copies from the bank. After they are reviewed, I suggest a meeting with the treasurer and Pack representatives. If she just got in over her head, even financially, she may be willing to repay the Pack, even if it takes a repayment plan.

 

If it can't be resolved, you have legal recourse, both civil and criminal. Small claims court does not require an attorney, and costs are generally small, and recovered if you prevail. Two things to consider - do you have good records and a person who will present your case well? More important, if you win a judgment, can it be collected? A judgment is a piece of paper. If she has no assets, such as regular paychecks or bank accounts with sufficient funds, you may be throwing good money after bad. Your other alternative is criminal proceedings. If your records are good, I believe that a DA or the police will take your case seriously, since stealing from a youth group will offend most people. The advantage of criminal prosecution is the authorities handle it, and can lead to you getting your money back. The defendant can resolve the matter with a civil compromise, where the defendant pays the injured party and charges are dropped. The threat of a criminal record often leads to such a settlement where a threat of a civil suit does not. If not compromised, a guilty plea or a verdict of guilt will lead to sentencing, which can include a restitution order. Merely the threat of criminal prosecution, with the obvious embarresment, will result in resolution prior to charges being filed. Just be sure that the charges are well founded. To bring charges without solid cause is wrong, both legally and especially morally.

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Close the account now! Open a new account at another bank & require at least two signatures on every check. Plus, make sure the two signers are not in the same family. Then, develop a policy where all expenses must be approved by the CC & treasurer. This should help ensure this doesn't happen again.

 

As for what you have lost so far, I would approach the lady & request she repay the money she stole. If she refuses, then you choices are simple.

 

1. Take her to small claims court.

2. Count your losses & consider it a learning experience.

 

It really stinks when this happens & it can destroy the trust in a Pack or Troop. Don't let that happen.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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I agree with anyine else remove her immediatley from all check writing. Then notify the police right away. The authorities may be able to get some of the money back from her.

 

We require a monthly audit of our accounts not just by the Troop Committee but by a board of leaders from our CO. They go over our reports and look at them closely and have been known to ask rather pointed questions.

 

Next time create an oversight committee of at least two people and require both signatures on checks.

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I have been a banker for over 23 years here is my advice.

 

If the account requires two signatures and no other authorized signer signed the checks then here is a way to get your money back. If there are two proper signatures on the checks you are out of luck - except thru Small Claims Court. Hopefully one of the signers did not sign blank checks for "convenience" purposes.

 

The policy of most banks is to not verify signatures on checks less than $1,000. The cost analysis shows that it is cheaper to pay the fraud costs than it would be to hire employees to verify the signatures. If the Committee and Sponsoring Organization is willing to prosecute this person here is what you do. You go to the bank sign an affidavit of forgery (since the second signature is either missing or forged). This affidavit will authorize the bank to prosecute this person. The bank will investigate and must reimburse the account the monies that were illegally withdrawn. Please note that this method can get ugly. I would advise to talk with the person and present this option. Give her the chance to reimburse the Pack.

 

YIS

Paul

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Everybody agrees that this treasurer needs to become the former treasurer as soon as possible, if this has not already happened. I still suggest seeking restitution more quietly once the facts are known. Threatening criminal prosecution may be leverage to arrive at a repayment plan, but I would be surprised if the authorities would show any interest in such a small case, particularly if the records are incomplete and/or not clear. It is true that an attorney is not required to go to small claims court, but having an attorney at least do the leg work on a pro bonon basis would be very helpful. ScouterPaul's perspective is also quite valuable. But the bank is limited in what it can do, depending on the nature of the account. Since the CO is the legal owner of the account, maybe there is a path for some help there. You need to ask yourselves how much time and energy you want to put into this.

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