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Fired Chamber worker repays $66,000 of embezzled funds

April 05, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A former administrative assistant who admitted taking money from the Greater Waynesboro Area Chamber of Commerce and two other agencies for which the Chamber does accounting said Tuesday she has repaid more than $66,000.

Attorney Jack Sharpe of Chambersburg, Pa., who represents the Chamber in the case, said he will meet with Julie Small, 40, next week to discuss how she will repay the rest of the money.

Chamber officials put the total amount taken, including interest lost on investments, at about $130,000.

Included in the theft were certificates of deposits owned by the Waynesboro Industrial Development Corp. that Small cashed in for her own use, Waynesboro attorney Steve Kulla, who represents the WIDC in the case, has alleged. The amount the WIDC is missing has not been made public.

Funds were also missing from the Waynesboro Retail Bureau. The finances of both agencies are handled by the Chamber of Commerce.

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An audit of the books of all three agencies was done after the thefts were discovered, according to Chamber Executive Director Carol Henicle.

Small said Tuesday that the money she paid back came from the refinancing of her mother's home mortgage. She said she doesn't know the total amount taken from the agencies.

"I'll find that out when I meet with Mr. Sharpe next week," she said.

Small, who said she is determined to pay back all the money, has not found a new job yet. "I'm just starting to look now," she said.

Chief Glenn Phenicie of the Waynesboro Police Department, which is investigating the case, said Tuesday no charges have been filed against Small. He said police are awaiting further word from Chamber officials before proceeding in the case.

Sharpe said the agencies are not pushing for criminal charges against Small, although "that has never been taken off the table."

He said in most such cases, victims want their money back and that can't happen if the person who took it is in jail. "It's just not in the best interest of the victims," he said.

"We're very pleased that she made arrangements to make this payment," Sharpe said. "We'll talk to her next week and see where we are going from here."

Small said in February she never took money for luxury items. She said she was going through a divorce and needed money to pay expenses.

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