It always gets in my craw when people steal from charities, especially this time of year. Here is a sad story of a man who enjoyed the local library and wanted them to benefit when he passed away earlier this year.
After Henry Merrifield died of a heart attack last February, his family asked that memorial donations be made to the Saugus Public Library in Saugus, MA, which had long suffered funding shortfalls.
The library was his cause. He was constantly down there, checking out books or ordering them from other libraries.
The $500 in donations made in Merrifield’s name was likely lost in an $800,000 theft, allegedly at the hands of a part-time library worker, over the last seven years.
Linda E. Duffy, a former administrative assistant at the library, was indicted and charged with four counts of mail fraud, 10 counts of money-laundering, and one count of aggravated identity theft. She is due to be arraigned in US District Court in Boston.
Duffy, 65, is alleged to have diverted fees for overdue books and videos, and charitable donations, including more than $450,000 from the GE Foundation, into an account she controlled at Eastern Bank. She used the money to pay the mortgage on her Saugus home, dental bills, car repairs, jewelry, hotel stays, and other personal expenses.
The alleged theft stunned Saugus, a town often in fiscal trouble. In 2007, the library was closed temporarily after residents rejected a trash fee to generate more revenue. After town funding slipped below state standards, the library lost its certification, as well as the chance to apply for state matching funds in 2008. Certification was restored a year later, after money was trimmed from other town departments for funding.
Merrifield, an elected Town Meeting member, was among those who led a public charge to restore library funding.
“There was no question in our minds as to how to commemorate his life but to have donations made in his name to the library,’’ said Abber, who held a reception after Merrifield’s funeral in the library’s meeting room.
What Penalty Should Duffy Pay?
If convicted, Duffy could be forced to sell her home and other personal possessions to pay back missing money.
The indictment also alleges that Duffy faked donations as large as $50,000 to get matching funds from the GE Foundation, a charitable arm of General Electric Co., which has an aircraft engine plant in Lynn. Between 2004 and July of this year, the GE Foundation sent the library more than $450,000 in matching funds, most of which were sent in response to “bogus library donations.’’
A History of Financial Wrongdoings?
The library theft is the second time Duffy has been charged with financial wrongdoing. In 1992, she was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for defrauding an insurance company.
Duffy was hired as a part-time clerk and became a full-time employee in 2004. As budget cuts forced the library to cut staff, Duffy assumed more responsibilities, including processing charitable donations, the indictment states. Since 2007, Duffy had again been a part-time employee, earning $18.54 per hour until she resigned in July amid a financial investigation by Saugus officials, according to the town’s personnel department.
Stories like this sicken me. I hope, if she is found guilty, that she is forced to sell off her house to pay restitution. She is the epitome of a disease society is suffering from where people do not want to earn their money!
Source: Boston Globe