ACORN embezzlement was $5 million, La. attorney general says

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Robert Travis Scott

Louisiana’s attorney general has broadened the scope of an investigation of ACORN to include a possible embezzlement of $5 million a decade ago within the community organization, five times more than previously reported.

ACORN Chief Executive Officer Bertha Lewis said the new reported amount is “completely false.”

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has been conducting an investigation of ACORN since June. He issued subpoenas in August seeking documents related to former ACORN International President Wade Rathke and his brother Dale Rathke, who kept the group’s books. Those subpoenas were focused on possible ACORN violations for non-payment of employee withholding taxes, obstructing justice and violating the Employee Retirement Security Act. No charges have been made.

The attorney general had inquired in June into an alleged embezzlement within ACORN that happened 10 years ago. The group last year dealt with an internal dispute and a lawsuit involving accusations that Dale Rathke made nearly $1 million in improper credit card charges in 1999 and 2000. The brother and a donor repaid the money.

Caldwell said last month that the statute of limitations presented obstacles to prosecutors taking action on the embezzlement, and that his investigation was not focused on that issue. The subpoena issued Monday changed the tone of the investigation and put a new emphasis on the embezzlement issue.

“Current high-ranking members of ACORN have publicly acknowledged that embezzlement did in fact occur, but the exact amount of the embezzlement was unknown until it was recently acknowledged in a board of directors meeting on Oct. 17, 2008, by Bertha Lewis and Liz Wolf that an internal review had determined that the amount embezzled was $5 million, ” the new subpoena says.

Read more at NOLA.COM

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