The nearly 200-year-old American Bible Society moved its headquarters from New York City to Philadelphia in October 2015 and brought hundreds of employees to the area. The society, based in Old City is a Christian nonprofit that is known for translating, publishing and distributing Bibles across the globe.
But one of their employees, 38-year-old Rasheeda Overton, of Dover, Delaware, allegedly was not interested in sharing the holy book to people across the world. In an indictment unsealed this week, federal prosecutors alleged that Overton exploited her role to embezzle some $100,000 from the nonprofit.
Starting in May 2016, and running through April 2017, Overton allegedly issued fraudulent payroll checks through ADP Payroll Services using the names and identifying numbers of former Bible Society employees. The payments were transferred to bank accounts she controlled, federal prosecutors alleged.
“On April 17, 2017, we discovered suspicious transactions in our payroll system history. Upon further examination, it appears that a former employee fraudulently diverted ministry resources into a personal account," said American Bible Society Chief Financial Officer Mark Wilson. "Promptly after our initial investigation, we reported the crime to the U.S. Attorney’s office and have sought prosecution of the alleged offender. Due to the ongoing investigation and legal proceedings, we are unable to provide additional details at this time."
Overton is now charged with 23 counts of aggravated identity theft, prosecutors said. She used three different identities to fraudulently issue herself some 23 payments of gradually increasing amounts over the course of the year.
Philly federal prosecutors said Overton could face a punishment of at least two years in prison and possibly a $6.75 million fine.
Wilson said the Society has undertaken a review of payroll systems to prevent any such embezzlement in the future.
“Our finance team has thoroughly reviewed security measures to identify how internal controls were evaded and we have implemented new procedures to prevent such activity from happening again," Wilson said. "We are committed to safely managing the resources entrusted to us by our financial partners, so we are certainly saddened and dismayed that our organization and, ultimately, our partners were victimized.”