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A bookkeeper for a Connecticut veterans group, which last year was named one of America’s worst charities, has been accused of embezzling more than $830,000 from the organization over the past five years.
Cynthia Tanner of Darien, Connecticut, was charged today with writing unauthorized checks from the account of her employer, National Veterans Services Fund Inc. Police said that in 2013 alone, she wrote 135 checks for more than $185,000 to herself and family members and used the charity’s credit cards for personal expenses such as airfare, vacations and Internet purchases.
Tanner is accused of fabricating receipts that made it appear these checks were written to veterans or clients of National Veterans Services Fund.
In a press release announcing Tanner’s arrest, the Darien Police Department said additional arrest warrants are expected.
Tanner was one of two full-time employees of the charity, which was founded in 1978 and claims to give financial assistance to veterans nationwide. A 2013 investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting found that the group routinely let outside fundraisers keep the majority of the public’s donations. In 2011, for example, professional solicitors raised $9 million but kept 82 percent of the proceeds.
Phillip Kraft, the fund’s longtime president, said the investigation of Tanner began after “some questionable entries” came up during an internal audit. Tanner had been employed by the charity since 2008.
“We immediately began a detailed review with our CPAs, contacted an attorney and then promptly set up a meeting with the Darien Police Department,” Kraft said. “Donors should know that the charity is still in operation and it is safe to donate.”