On a late Friday afternoon in February, a gavel fell and Joann Bolliger was sentenced to federal prison and ordered to repay $800,000. Can you for a moment image what she was thinking as she heard the gavel drop?
History: In late December 2007 Bolliger pled guilty to conspiring to defraud St. Maurice Catholic Church by counterfeiting their checks. Bolliger, who worked as a bookkeeper at St. Maurice Catholic Church, conspired with another church employee to forge and alter payroll and other checks belonging to the church and then negotiated over $800,000 in checks for their personal enrichment.
Lisa Mazurkevitch, another church employee charged in the case, pleaded guilty in March 2006. She was sentenced that same year to six months of house arrest, five years of probation and ordered to pay $40,151 in restitution.
Reality: Every choice has a consequence. One cannot assume that any fraud committed will go unnoticed or that there will be no consequences. I speak from experience, as (although I am not proud of my past) I have spent time in federal prison for white collar crime. For a time, I believed that I was able to perpetrate a fraud that would go undetected. Such a believe is an illusion. You do reap what you sow.
In this case, Bolliger will soon report to federal prison. She will find that, while this experience will be humbling, different, and less than pleasant – it will be a growth opportunity for her should she choose to use it.
As a business ethics and white collar crime speaker, I know that a conviction and prison sentence does not limit one’s ability to rise above poor choices and make more effective positive choices. Hopefully, Bolliger will see the error of her ways and make use of this time to have a positive impact on the lives of others in the future.