The $600,000 Buddhist school fraud

The $600,000 Buddhist school fraudShe may have been unclear on some concepts.
"Naropa recognizes the inherent goodness and wisdom of each human being." – from Naropa University’s mission statement.

Here’s a story of fraud from my hometown of Boulder, Colorado.

Ronda Deavers is accused of stealing almost $600,000 by deceiving the local Buddhist-inspired school, Naropa University. (And Naropa is not that big – it only has about 1,060 students.)

Ms. Deavers was an accounts payable clerk in the finance department. Her job was to issue refund checks to students, and to pay vendors. Instead, she reissued the checks to herself or to her girlfriend.

She committed this fraud for two years, from February 2008 through March 2010.

In June of 2010, "based on a careful examination of the university’s finances," Naropa had to lay off employees. The university did not say if this was due to her fraudulent activity.

Ms. Deavers stole an average of $25,000 a month.

If a student refund check was returned to the school, she would void it in the computer system, and then reissue the check to herself. She would also void checks intended for vendors, and issue them to herself.

It seems if a check was for less than $3,000, it was pre-printed with a signature which indicated "this check is legitimate." Nobody double-checked the check.

She also made out checks to her girlfriend and had someone else sign them, pretending they were student refund or vendor checks.

Ms. Devers was not the only one fired. Both the chief financial officer and the comptroller were fired, not surprisingly, for "failure to establish proper controls."

Boulder County grand jury indicts former Naropa employee on theft charges, Boulder Daily Camera>>

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