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Chamber protects treasury

August 22, 2000

Chamber protects treasury



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


WAYNESBORO, Pa. - In an attempt to avoid future incidents, the board of directors of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce has written new rules to protect its treasury from thefts seven months after nearly $130,000 in Chamber funds were discovered missing.

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Julie Small, a former administrative assistant who worked for the Chamber for eight years, admitted to taking the money in February.

Small, 40, of Waynesboro, has never been criminally charged in the incident and has never hired an attorney, Carol Henicle, executive director of the Chamber, said Tuesday.

The board wants the bylaws to require regular audits of the Chamber's books. Previously, audits were done only occasionally and never on a regular basis, Henicle said.

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"We will have an annual audit and then any time the treasurer wants one. Formal (financial) reports given to the board," Henicle said.

The new rules will also make the treasurer more accountable to the board, she said. The board appoints a new volunteer treasurer every year.

The 15 members that make up the board of directors serve three-year terms with one-third up for re-election every year. The chamber has 420 members in the community.

Henicle said the proposed changes in the by-laws are being mailed to the members now for their approval.

The stolen funds came from the Chamber's own treasury plus certificates of deposit owned by the Waynesboro Industrial Development Corp., along with funds of the Waynesboro Retail Bureau.

The Chamber handles the books for the Waynesboro Industrial Development Corp., and the Waynesboro Retail Bureau.

Small said at the time she admitted the thefts that she needed money because she was going through a divorce. She said she never used it to buy luxury items. She said in April that she had repaid $66,000 of the stolen funds from money received in the refinancing of her mother's home.

Since then, Henicle said, Small has paid another $2,000 and pledges to repay the full amount plus any costs incurred by the Chamber because of her actions.

Small and attorney Jack Sharpe of Chambersburg, the Chamber's lawyer, are working out the details on how Small will repay the rest of the money. Henicle said payments will be at least $400 a month.

The biggest loss was suffered by the Waynesboro Industrial Development Corp. The embezzlement involved certificates of deposit owned by the corporation, which were cashed then deposited into the corporation's checking account. Small wrote checks against the account to the Chamber of Commerce, then took the money out of the Chamber's account for her own use.

The embezzlements occurred over a two-year period, hence the need for more regular audits, Henicle said. "We need these changes in our by-laws to safeguard the Chamber's treasury," she said.

Small admitted the thefts in a heart-to-heart talk with Henicle after Henicle and other Chamber officials became suspicious.

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