Friday, June 4, 2010

Thief Nabs $640,000 from Department of Education, Questions Rise Over Agency's Lax Oversight by Meredith Kolodner - NY Daily News

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A tech-savvy thief stole more than $640,000 from the Education Department, a shocking example of how the agency's lax oversight has cost taxpayers, a special investigation shows.

Albert Attoh hacked into the agency's petty cash account and gave others codes to pay for their loans, gas and Home Depot bills. The users then paid Attoh.

In April, Attoh was sentenced to a year in prison and fined $275,000 for the thefts, which occurred from 2003 to 2007.

"It is difficult to understand how the [agency] accumulated years of account statements, reflecting hundreds of thousands of public dollars spent to pay bills, but did not review them," Special Commissioner Richard Condon wrote in a report.

Education Department officials said they put a tight set of controls and processes in place to secure petty cash accounts.

But Condon noted that just last year a clerk was able to steal more than $60,000 because no one looked at statements that showed his personal purchases, including global travel with his family.