Oh, Sister

Last week, the chief financial officer for a private New York college was indicted by the feds for embezzling what was initially believed to be $850,000.  While this in itself is not necessarily news (I mean really…c’mon…stories such as these are as common as Diet Coke being in my fridge), what makes this so sad is that it was a Catholic nun who allegedly took the money.  And before you think she had a noble reason for taking close to a million dollars, you should know Sister Marie Thornton spent it all in Atlantic City.  Specifically, she spent it all in Atlantic City on gambling junkets, according to the indictment.

Interestingly, she already enjoyed an impressive salary – up to six figures from what I’ve been told.

Naturally, the college isn’t commenting, citing reasons that it’s a legal matter.  There is, however, a statement posted on Iona College’s website that said, in effect, that it had been notified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that one of its former CFOs had officially been charged.  Apparently, the investigation had been ongoing for more than a year and Sister Thornton had been discharged during the college’s investigation.

This sordid affair takes a peculiar turn, though.  The school had already completed its internal investigation more than a year ago and the feds charged the nun for embezzling more than $850,000. Then the school posted another release earlier this week that said, in essence, it had learned the federal government overestimated the amount of money stolen.  This begs the question: how much did the school initially say was missing? If it didn’t know, and then the investigation revealed $850,000, only to correct itself by a reduction of $50,000, would the school have believed the initial higher amount?  The presser reads, in part, “We want to reiterate that as a result of the College’s investigation…the College reported a theft of approximately $800,000…”  All of these approximations are curious.  Even more curious is the defensive stance the school takes when the authorities corrected its initial figures; “Unfortunately, the US Attorney’s Office used the overstated number in its initial release of information to the news media before correcting it two days later”.

With tuition costs rising yet again, there are sure to be more than a few upset parents.  Imagine Christmas dinner around those tables!



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