Former bookkeeper stole over $1 million from Archdiocese of New York

NEW YORK —The Archdiocese of New York has accused a former bookkeeper of stealing more than $1 million from the Roman Catholic Church, The New York Times reported.

Anita Collins, 67, from the Bronx, was previously convicted of grand larceny and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in another case, but the archdiocese said it didn’t know since there was no background check performed. She worked at the headquarters of the archdiocese in Manhattan for more than eight years, first as accounts payable for the education finance office and then in the chancery, the main office that manages the archdiocese’s major finances, The Times reported.

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According to Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling, Collins wrote checks to herself or a relative but recorded them as payments to legitimate vendors, the Associated Press reported. The Archdiocese staff and outside auditors noticed the theft and then alerted prosecutors. Since checks below $2,500 didn’t require the approval of a supervisor, Collins kept the amounts to just under that and issued over 450 to herself over seven years, The Times reported.

Background checks from all archdiocese employees began shortly after Collins was hired in 2003. She was fired in December after the archdiocese noticed the alleged fraud, CBS News reported.

“There will always be individuals who seek to exploit and circumvent whatever system is established, but we will remain vigilant in our oversight,” Zwilling said in a statement, CBS News reported. “We are continually working to improve our financial controls in order to prevent such occurrences from happening,” Zwilling added.

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