Former Girl Scouts Finance Exec Pleads Guilty

January 11, 2012       Mark Hrywna      

Cosmetic laser procedures, a $13,000 diamond ring and $18,000 spent at bars and restaurants were just some of the personal expenses covered by money stolen from the Girl Scouts of Greater New York by a former employee.

The former finance director of a Girl Scouts affiliate admitted stealing more than $300,000 over two years and spending the money on various personal expenses. Yaasmin Hooey of New York pleaded guilty Jan. 10 to second-degree larceny, the most serious charge in the indictment, and is scheduled to be sentenced March 6 in New York Supreme Court.

The 35-year-old told authorities that she wrote 65 checks to herself from the payroll account, totaling $275,979. She also moved $35,606 from two of the charity’s bank accounts to her own through nine wire transfers. All of the checks were handwritten, with the forged signature of then-CEO Dolores Swirin.

Hooey used the money on personal expenses, including groceries, gym memberships, clothes and Metro-North Railroad tickets. In total, she admitted stealing $311,568 between September 2008 and December 2010. Girl Scouts of Greater New York recorded $5.5 million in total revenue, according to its most recent annual report for Fiscal Year 2010.

When the council’s staff discovered and confirmed the crime, Hooey was fired the same day and the affiliate immediately notified legal counsel, external auditors and the District Attorney, according to spokeswoman Lalitha Sarma.

Virtually all of the stolen funds, except for a small deductible, were recouped through insurance, she added in a prepared statement. Since the incident, the Girl Scout chapter said it has strengthened its internal financial controls, procedures and banking fraud protections but did not go into specifics. Also, new senior staff is in place.

According to the guilty plea and documents filed in court, Hooey worked for the Manhattan-based Girl Scouts affiliate for more than two years. She was responsible for managing the organization’s bank accounts, recording all checks written out of each account, reconciling checking account journals, and inputting all account activity into the affiliate’s accounting system. She also oversaw payroll operations, setting up wire transfers for payments, printing checks for the CEO to sign, creating financial reports, and preparing the organization’s financial records for yearly audit by an outside company.

How much Hooey earned as finance director is unclear. Though she was listed as the person in charge of the organization’s books on the 2008 tax Form 990, Hooey was not listed among the five highest paid employees other than officers, directors or trustees (who ranged from $62,000 to $73,000). On the 2010 tax form, for the fiscal year ending September 2010, Hooey was no longer listed as the person who possesses the books and records of the organization, while the previous CEO is listed as having compensation of about $154,000.

“The defendant’s theft from the Girl Scouts, a respected nonprofit organization, is particularly egregious,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a prepared statement. “It was an enormous violation of the trust the Scouts placed in her as their director of finance, as well as the trust of the many girls that the organization serves.”