Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Without Checking References, Nonprofit Fraud Results

by Gary Snyder

The former director of Portland's federal halfway house pleaded guilty to embezzling about $213,787 from a government-funded nonprofit. Laura Marie Edwards served as executive director of the Oregon Halfway House from 2007 until 2010, when she was suspected of stealing from the nonprofit now known as the Northwest Regional Re-Entry Center. She had misused a debit card meant for business purposes, according to court records. Edwards had purchased goods from the Adoption Shoppe, an online business she owned, as part of a scheme to put the nonprofit's money into her personal bank account, records show. 

She has quite a past. She was relieved of her duties by the board of directors at the Portland Halfway House after having been accused of embezzling money from a halfway house in California. Edwards was scheduled to plead guilty last June to stealing from a program receiving federal funds. But she skipped the proceeding and turned up in Rhode Island, where she had gone to work as a community outreach specialist for a charity, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State. Officials at the Rhode Island charity fired Edwards after learning she was accused of embezzlement in Portland. Afterwards, Edwards was found in a local hospital after what a federal prosecutor in Providence, R.I., said was a suicide attempt. 

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics, , Newsweek.com, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more • Nonprofits: On the Brink (iUniverse, 2006)
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