Treasurer Who Embezzled from Philadelphia Organization Had No Background Check

By Michael Klazema on 5/26/2016

The Main Line Newcomers Club is a suburban social group based in the Philadelphia area that is meant to help newcomer's to the city's "Main Line" region feel welcome. "Main Line" is not a city, a town, or even an official area. Rather, the "Main Line" is an “unofficial” part of suburban Philadelphia that runs along the old route of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Main Line Newcomers Club organizes dinners, outings, and other events for people living in the Main Line area, all to help foster a community atmosphere.

Now, though, the Main Line Newcomers Club is not just a social club geared toward community building. On the contrary, due to recent events, the group is something of a cautionary tale for organizations that fail to run background checks on its members.

To be fair, the Main Line Newcomers Club is not some major non-profit organization where it would be logical for every member to have a background check on file. The organization is 100% volunteer-based, and social life is the major focus. It makes sense that the group wouldn't feel the need to run background checks on its members—especially since a big part of the mission is creating a welcoming atmosphere for newcomers to the area. There's nothing particularly welcoming about saying "you can join our social group, but only if you pass a background check first."

If one person in this type of organization should have a background check, though, it's the treasurer. According to a recent report from Philadelphia Magazine, the Main Line Newcomers Club neglected to run background checks on anyone, treasurer included. That decision proved to be a mistake after the group's treasurer—a 41-year-old mom from the Wynnewood area—was accused of using her position to steal "thousands of dollars."

So far, the Main Line Newcomers Group isn't exactly sure how much money they're missing. According to the Philadelphia Magazine article, the former Treasurer has not yet been arrested for the offense. However, she has offered to repay the money to the group and is under investigation by local police. It seems like it will only be a matter of time before a charge shows up on the books.

What's unsettling here is how easily the Main Line Newcomers Group could have avoided this situation. With a policy in place to vet anyone who handles money, the group would have found out that their treasurer had a felony conviction for theft. The woman's criminal history came when she was an accounting manager for a homeless charity based in Philadelphia. With the right background check, that conviction would likely bar the suspect from every working in a money handling position again—or, in all likelihood, ever playing any significant role for a non-profit organization.



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