A former treasurer for Exponent II, one among Mormonism’s longest-running feminist magazines, stole more than $100,000 from the nonprofit basis in Boston, the crowd introduced Saturday.
Suzette Smith, a qualified organizer in Virginia, turned into Exponent’s volunteer treasurer in 2012 and embezzled donations to the crowd for her non-public use from then till 2017, when her fraudulent actions got here to gentle.
“This was not an isolated incident or one-time lapse in judgment; she actively chose to steal from Exponent II in over 600 different transactions,” the board wrote in a blog post. “She deliberately took measures to hide her activities, such as opening multiple bank accounts, limiting access to those accounts, and falsifying financial statements to make board members think that Exponent II was barely solvent.”
The board reported the case to the FBI previous this yr, since the crime used to be carried out over state strains. After an investigation, the company “presented the evidence to Suzette,” the crowd wrote. “She pled guilty [in court] to the crime of felony wire fraud on November 16, 2018. She will appear before a judge to receive a sentence in February 2019.”
According to a “Statement of Facts” indexed by means of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia, “Smith transferred or paid again roughly $84,319.70 [of] the roughly $191,674.91 that [she] embezzled. Smith’s overall quantity stolen from [the nonprofit] used to be roughly $107,451.21.”
Smith’s deception has been an enormous emotional blow to all the ones ladies running tirelessly and with out pay to stay the ladies’s magazine afloat since its founding in 1974, created to discover feminine tales and problems in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“All our hearts are damaged, particularly the ones ladies who labored for many years to construct the group right into a solvent, sustainable undertaking,” stated Carrie Salisbury, an Exponent blogger. “The way Suzette preyed upon the trust and vulnerability of a group of Mormon women to steal their ‘widow’s mite’ is a betrayal that is rocking our organization to the very core. The only thing sustaining us now is that our trust in each other is not broken, and we’re doing all we can to rebuild.”
In reaction to this incident, Exponent II has carried out a number of “financial safeguards,” guarding who has get admission to to financial institution accounts and cash dealing with.
Smith, who faces conceivable jail time in addition to required restitution and conceivable consequences, stated Saturday she used to be deeply sorry for what she did.
She had “made terrible mistakes,” Smith wrote in an e mail, betraying ladies and a undertaking that she beloved, whilst appearing “for my personal gain.”
“The slide into taking the money was incremental,” Smith stated in a shortened model of what she is going to say to the court docket when she is sentenced Feb. 15. “As part of my rationalization, I pushed aside the details, and only later, after the audit, was I shocked to realize that I had stolen over $100,000.”
Still, she admits she used to be “shameless and arrogant. I acted selfishly and with no regard for others. What makes it worse is that Exponent II was a family to me. They trusted me with an opportunity to be a part of an amazing organization.”
She “acted outside the boundaries of society’s morals and norms,” Smith stated. “I went against my own moral compass — of values such as honesty, trust and loyalty.”
She is in a position “to accept justice, in whatever fines and punishments the courts see fit to place on me,” Smith stated. “My belief in Christ and his grace remains strong. It is my wish to walk the path of redemption.”
Smith’s apology rings hole to Exponent II editors and previous editors, who’ve struggled for more than a yr to regain monetary balance for the magazine after her deception.
She has persevered “to minimize and hide the extent of her betrayal up until this plea bargain,” stated former editor Aimee Evans Hickman, “when she confessed her crimes to the United States government.”
That’s one thing she hasn’t ever finished, Hickman stated, “to her Exponent sisters.”