What do Casey Goodwin, Jackie Hutto, Shannon Lewis and Tammy Bennett have in common? If your answer was “sticky fingers”, you would be correct. By sticky fingers, it is meant the kind that dollar bills stick to when counting out money that is entrusted to them by someone else. Every company, agency, fund, school, business, bank, have positions of trust managed by people who the boss believes to be honest and will account for “all” the dollar receivables. It is called “cash flow” backed by documents such as receipts, cancelled checks, invoices, and/or a paper trail that auditors use to check on the accountability of the accounts entrusted and managed.
Each of the above mentioned individuals were placed in a position of trust and have been caught with their hand in the cash register. Goodwin helped himself to school booster funds at Wakulla High school. Jackie was a payroll supervisor at Leon county schools and helped herself to some one else’s money. Shannon was the manager at Innovation Park and used funds collected for rent to purchase cars and a swimming pool and now jailed.
In almost every one of the above situations, one is puzzled as to how they got away with it over several months, if not, years. Embezzling is not a violent crime and in most cases, it is a person that is well liked, has a super friendly personality; and, in all cases, “trusted” by their bosses. Some of these bosses most likely were too embarassed to double check the work entrusted to these employees, so audits were not done or so cleverly done that they were not found by the auditors. In the case of Shannon Lewis, she had a signature stamp from a board member who approved all checks, so she just made a few out to herself. Some businesses even do not report embezzlers because of embarassment on themselves for not checking.
There is an old very appropriate story that illustrates how people get away with stealing. This story reportedly took place in a former communist country in Europe at a factory that made tools. Each worker was searched as they left the factory. Karl was one of these workers and every evening he, and his wheelbarrow that he used on the job, were searched. Karl always had some sand in the wheelbarrow that was dumped out and sifted by the guard. Karl retired after 30 years and the day of his retirement, the guard spoke to Karl about his effort to steal sand every day after work. The guard asked Karl why he would always try to steal sand and always get caught. Karl told the guard that it was to distract him because he was stealing a wheelbarrow every day.
The lesson here is for all corporations with positions of trust to make it clear from the first day of employment that they will be inspected and to have measures in place to prevent embezzlement and stealing. It is hard to believe that Tammy Bennett, Chiles High School English teacher, in charge of the year book fund, for 12 years, was never checked on by someone. It is reported that at least $150,000 is missing from the fund. Hard to believe.