Wednesday, November 19, 2014

These Million Dollar Embezzlements Just Keep Coming...and Little Is Done

by Gary Snyder

A former official of the Hereditary Disease Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit group that supports research into genetic illness, has been charged with embezzling more than $1.8 million of the organization’s funds and using the money for personal expenses. 

The former official, Karen Alameddine, 57, served as the organization’s controller until she resigned this year. She had almost exclusive responsibility for overseeing various aspects of the foundation’s financial affairs, the government said, including delivering grant money to researchers and paying the organization’s bills.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said in a criminal complaint unsealed on Tuesday that Ms. Alameddine began diverting money by disguising entries in the foundation’s accounting software “to make what in reality were transfers to her personal bank account appear as if they were wire or bank transfers” to grant recipients.

The foundation’s recent tax returns show that Ms. Alameddine received annual compensation of about $115,000. The complaint charges that she did not report the more than $1.8 million she was accused of embezzling.

The foundation’s website says that the organization has given more than $50 million to support research in genetics, gene therapy, molecular and cell biology. In 1993, researchers affiliated with the group played a key role in the discovery of the gene for Huntington’s disease, which afflicts tens of thousands of Americans.




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