George Wright was a busy man. He was loved and respected by all in Middleville, Indiana. He owned several of the local businesses, was active in the church, sang in the choir, and was always around to help with youth fundraising and sports activities.
So when Dr. DeFoe said he would like to come check out the accounting system and software that he used for his local newspaper, George was only too happy to help. Dr. DeFoe said he was a university professor writing a paper on how small businesses operate. He asked George not to let the accountant know he was coming, because he wanted to see how it was really done. An appointment was made for the following Monday at 8:30.
George hung up the phone and peaked in on Allen Raith, the full charge accountant he had that took care of the paper. The Middleburg Times came out once a week. There were only six employees, and Allen did a lot for the paper. George was so blessed to have Allen with him. They had been friends for years and were in the choir at church together. Allen did it all: accounts receivable, accounts payable, reconciliation. George never had to worry about the accounting with the newspaper because he knew Allen had it all under control.
Allen looked up at him and smiled. “Hi, George! Got any good plans for this weekend? How’s the wife and kids?”
“Fine, thanks. Maggie wants to go out on the lake tomorrow. Let’s hope the weather holds out! ” George looked around the room and noticed the stacks of papers. “Hey, Allen, you might want to straighten up just a bit. Some professor from State University it coming by this Monday to look at the books. He says he wants to peak at how we keep the books here. I just thought I’d give you heads up.”
Allen looked startled. “George, that really isn’t a good idea. I am swamped right now with month end closing. I’m sure he can find someone else to check out. This is really a great imposition!”
“Oh, nonsense, Allen. I know you have the books in tiptop shape and he’ll only be here for a couple of hours. You know I love to help the schools when I get a can. Let’s give him a chance.”
“Please, please, don’t do this, George.”
“Everything’s going to be fine, Allen. Hey, I’ll give you a bonus for working with him. He seems like a reasonable fellow. I’ve made up my mind.”
Allen sighed and turned around. He knew that when George made up his mind, there was no talking sense into him.
The next evening when George drove by the office after going to the lake, he saw Allen’s car there. He was pleased to think of how Allen was cleaning up. He would show that Dr. Defoe what a small town could do!
Monday morning, George arrived at the office at 8:00 so he could have a last minute chat with Allen. But when he went in Allen’s office, Allen was nowhere to be found. In fact, the office had been cleaned out. The drawers of the filing cabinet were empty and hanging open. The desk was empty. The computer was gone. The walls were stripped clean. There wasn’t so much as a paper clip left! George couldn’t believe his eyes.
When Dr. DeFoe arrived ten minutes later, George was distraught. He had called Allen’s home and the phone was disconnected. He looked up at Dr. DeFoe, his face drawn. How could this be? He explained the situation to Dr. DeFoe.
“Let’s go straight to the Courthouse and file charges,” suggested George. But the Courthouse didn’t open until 9. Instead, Dr. DeFoe suggested a trip to the bank. Although Allen had stolen all the records, the bank would have copies of the cancelled checks. And they needed to take his name off the account!
Fortunately, Allen had not had a chance to clean out the accounts. As they looked at copies of the canceled checks, George’s heart sank even further. The checks, drawn on the business account, were for Allen’s home mortgage, auto insurance, and other personal expenses. Now it all made sense, but in a senseless sort of way. Allen was his friend. They were inseparable. They went hunting together. There was nothing that George wouldn’t do for Allen. But this betrayal was real.
George looked at Dr. DeFoe. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. But now, I think I need to alone. Needless to say, I don’t think we can help you with your research today.”
Dr. DeFoe wished George the best, offering any help he could give, and got back in his car and left. He never heard from George again.
George had no checks and balances on Allen. The salesmen should have checked the billing monthly. George should have been responsible for signing checks himself. He should have reviewed the deposits on a regular basis. By delegating too much financial responsibility to just one person, no matter how trusted, he was setting himself up for embezzlement.