VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 30   |   JULY 27 – AUGUST 2, 2011


FCF executive director resigns after admitting theft

breaane ulewiczCAREFREE – After returning from vacation, Foothills Community Foundation (FCF) Executive Director Breanne Ulewicz (r) resigned from her position effective July 14.

Apparently, while Ulewicz was on vacation, FCF staff found some accounting discrepancies and misapplication of funds, which they reported to outgoing FCF President Bob Hermann, who reported the same to incoming President Tom Lankford and requested he head up a committee to investigate and make a recommendation.

Meanwhile, as Hermann and accounting consultant Bob Swan reviewed all check, credit card and debit card transactions for the past three years, they found 38 instances of embezzled funds beginning in October 2009, whereas Ulewicz entered phony invoices into the system and then issued checks for petty cash, which Ulewicz then endorsed and cashed.

The checks, totaling $22,831, were for several hundred dollars each but all under the $1,000 limit that required two signatures.

Ulewicz confessed to stealing the money during a recorded meeting on July 12, and was suspended with pay through July 15.

She submitted her resignation in writing on July 14, which, according to FCF Vice President Eddie Smith, was accepted on July 15.

A second recorded meeting was held on July 15 where Ulewicz was told FCF couldn’t simply accept her promise to pay the money back and FCF would need to be reimbursed in short order.

Ulewicz was also informed if she did not reimburse the stolen money in the immediate future FCF would be obligated to file a claim with its insurance company, at which time the insurance company would dictate whatever actions would be taken, including the filing of a police report and/or lawsuit.

FCF contacted its insurance agent after the July 15 meeting with Ulewicz, and informed him of the incidents so the foundation would meet the insurance company’s notice requirements if it needed to file a subsequent claim.

On July 21, Ulewicz contacted FCF to say she would pay the $22,831 back by noon the next day, which she did via an Official Check from Desert Medical Federal Credit Union.

Hermann deposited the check in FCF’s account at Harris Bank the following day.

Smith then asked the FCF Board of Directors to each vote via e-mail to authorize the executive committee to accept the $22,831 check as full reimbursement and consider the entire matter closed.

He also requested the board treat the matter as confidential, “to minimize undue gossip and rumors,” and suggested the following, if “pressed to comment:”

• FCF did have a situation regarding misappropriation of funds – as a result the executive director is no longer associated with FCF.
• Our accounting controls uncovered the theft and a full investigation followed.
• The matter is now fully resolved with FCF having received full reimbursement for the loss.
• FCF is launching a review of all internal processes to identify changes that may need to be made.

While Ulewicz has gotten off scot free because she reimbursed the stolen funds, FCF will be reviewing its practices to determine if any modifications need to be made.

In the interim, FCF has hired Karen Mackiewich, who currently works part time in an accounting capacity, as acting executive director for the next six months to become full time effective Aug. 1.

During the next six months, FCF will be conducting a search for a permanent executive director, which would include Mackiewich if she decides to apply.

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