From December 1999 through September 2005, Jenkins-Evans allegedly wrote herself 319 checks totaling more than $456,000 from a Simeon account that funds student activities at the South Side school, including academic and extracurricular activities, district officials said.I have been involved in the investigation into a couple of embezzlement schemes and read about dozens of others. All of those cases and this one have the same thing in common--one person with too much responsibility.
The checks were discovered in October 2005 during an audit routinely conducted after a new principal is assigned to a school, Sullivan said. After finding several checks written out to Jenkins-Evans, auditors referred the case to the inspector general for further investigation.
At the time, investigators thought they were dealing with about $20,000 in missing funds, the typical amount in such cases, [Inspector General James] Sullivan said. Yet the investigation of bank records from the school and Jenkins-Evans' personal accounts, dating to 1999, pointed to a scheme that lasted far longer and involved greater sums, Sullivan said.
"This is an extraordinary amount of money," Sullivan said. Sullivan alleged that Jenkins-Evans falsified some receipts and erased her name on some of the checks after they were returned from the bank, but in many cases documentation disappeared from the school.
"In this case, she was allowed to do things on her own with no follow-up and no oversights. We've interviewed everybody, and we have no reason to believe anyone else is involved," Sullivan said.
As this investigation becomes public we will learn the following things:
First, Jenkins-Evans was responsbible for cutting all the checks on the account.
Second, Jenkins-Evans was responsible for reconciling the same bank accounts and keeping records.
Third, there was no need for more than one signature on the checks (this may or may not be the case, but I bet it is).
Fourth, obviously no regulary annual and bi-annual audits were done as indicated by the fact that an audit is done only when a new principal takes office. This is very bad accounting practice.
In all embezzlement cases I have studied, the common factors are that the person who writes the checks is the person who can sign the checks and is the person who reconciles the bank account (balances the checkbook). To prevent embezzlement, one need only ensure that someone else does one of the above three things and the institution should have a regular, meaning no less frequently than every other year, audit of the books by an outside entity.
Yes, Jenkins-Evans is probably a criminal and should be punished, but so should her supervisors, who gave her the opportunity to commit the embezzlement. In many ways, their behavior is a bigger crime.