By age 37 most of us have moved past that stage in life where we make really “stupid” choices. That was not the case for Tara Mullins, of Renton, Washington. On January 15th, 2008 she pled guilty to embezzlement from an Employee Benefit Plan. Seems that Mullins worked as a bookkeeper for the Seattle Police Officers Guild.
Yes, she worked for the Police Officers Guild – the same place she embezzled money from. Now was that dumb or dumber?
MULLINS admits she embezzled $41,733 from guild funds, some of which were to be used to pay for employee benefits. According to the news release from the Western District of Washington:
MULLINS provided the government with a check for $77,492 in restitution which represents not only the money she embezzled, but the additional costs to the Seattle Police Officers Guild to audit the books, correct errors and defend against MULLINS’ legal claims following her firing. According to the plea agreement, MULLINS admits that she prepared fraudulent checks and deposited them into her personal bank accounts. MULLINS admits she forged the signature of a Guild officer on the forged checks. As part of the scheme MULLINS also transferred funds from Guild accounts to her own PayPal account for her personal use.
As a business ethics speaker, http://www.chuckgallagher.com, I speak to groups routinely about the effects of choices and consequences. (see YouTube Demo Video) Every choice has a consequence. The choice she made to embezzle will continue to have consequences especially since her sentencing hearing is set for April 18, 2008. She faces up to five years in prison and a potential $250,000 fine.
Now in fairness, Mullins has made a good choice in making restitution for not only her theft but the costs associated with the investigation. That should carry some weight when the judge issues the sentence. But, considering the sentencing guidelines, I would suspect that the judge will order some prison time.
Let’s hope that Mullins learns from her experience and makes more effective choices in the future. For sure, this will be a growing experience.