This is just NUN sense…A Sister arrested for stealing $1.2 million. Isn’t that like a Biblical no no Sister Marie E. Thornton?

December 13, 2010

Sometimes the choices we make just don’t add up.   Take the case of Sister Marie E. Thornton, a former vice president of finance for Iona College and a nun.  Sister Thornton was recently arrested on charges of embezzling more than $1.2-million from the Roman Catholic college over the course of 10 years.

What?  Yep…that’s right.  Arrested for embezzlement.  According to published reports, Federal prosecutors collaborated with the Department of Education in bringing the charges, which were announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan in a news release.

According to the news release, Sister Thornton allegedly diverted college funds for her own use by turning in false vendor invoices for reimbursement and submitting credit-card bills for personal expenses to the college.

Iona College, in a statement, disputed the size of the theft, calling the $1.2-million figure “significantly inaccurate.”  Sorry, but I have to ask, is this just another attempt at a cover up by the Catholic organization?  In my personal experience, rarely have I seen the US Attorney’s office dramatically inflate the size of a crime.  But this might just be a bunch of nun sense anyway…

The college, located in New Rochelle, N.Y., had previously disclosed that it had fired an unidentified employee for misappropriating approximately $80,000 a year over a decade. Another employee thought to have been involved in covering up the fraud was also fired.

Iona said that it had taken immediate action after discovering a year and a half ago that an employee had misappropriated funds, and that it had conducted a follow-up investigation and put preventive procedures in place. The college also said it had recovered most of the missing money but declined to comment further.

Sister Thornton served as Iona’s vice president for finance and administration for roughly a decade, and she previously was assistant to the president for five years, according to the college’s financial documents. She holds a doctorate in educational administration from Fordham University and previously spent time as a teacher, a principal, and a deputy school superintendent.


With credentials out the wazoo…what do you suppose would motivate Sister Thornton to take such actions?  And, how do you suppose she was able to rationalize her behavior?

If you know Sister Thornton – please comment and lets establish a dialogue related to my questions above.


Nun Sense – Sister Barbara Markey Pleads Guilty to Theft!

April 1, 2008

White collar crime takes a different look when a Nun commits the crime. Apparently she had a “habit” of gambling and broke one of the ten commandments to fund the need.


Every choice has a consequence. Fortunately, Sister Barbara Markey, age 73, elected to plead guilty to theft and agreed to pay $125,000 in restitution. Fired in 2006 as director of the archdiocese’s family life office, Markey faces up to 20 years in prison when she is sentenced in July 2008.

Markey, N.D., Ph.D., co-wrote a popular marriage-preparation program for the Catholic Church. Originally, defense attorney John Stevens Berry Sr. said the case stems from a disagreement about ownership and funding priorities related to the FOCCUS marriage preparation program, which Markey helped develop. Obviously, Markey has changed her mind about the ownership and funding priorities.

The Archdiocese of Omaha is satisfied with Sister Barbara Markey’s guilty plea to theft by deception today in Douglas County District Court. The case relates to funds taken from the Archdiocesan Family Life Office and FOCCUS, Inc., a Nebraska non-profit corporation affiliated with the Archdiocese, while Sister Markey was the director. Financial irregularities discovered in 2006 resulted in Sister Markey’s termination.

The Archdiocese is finalizing a settlement agreement resolving civil lawsuits related to the case. Under the agreement, Sister Markey will make restitution of $125,000 to the Archdiocese and the Archdiocese will not object to any recommendations that Sr. Markey be sentenced to probation.

Rev. Joseph Taphorn, Chancellor of the Archdiocese, says it was clear that the Archdiocese would not recover all of the missing funds. Taphorn added, “Sister Markey’s willingness to plead guilty and make some restitution will hopefully bring this matter to a close. We’re ready to move on.”

Every choice has a consequence. As a white collar crime and business ethics speaker, I speak from first hand experience about the truth about consequences. Reality is – no one escapes the consequences of their choices. Most frauds are comprised of three components: (1) need; (2) opportunity; and (3) rationalization. It seems here that all three are present. Markey needed the money to fund her addiction to gambling. Due to her position she had opportunity. Likely, she rationalized her actions by disputing (at least at first) the ownership of the FOCCUS program she co-authored.

What will be the outcome? Prison is no fun and should she be sentenced to a time of incarceration it will prove to be a dramatic change from her prior activities.

If anyone reading has any background on Markey and the services she provided – feel free to comment as I study the behaviors and backgrounds of those indicted and/or convicted for fraud.

White Collar Crime Speaker – Chuck Gallagher – signing off…