Controller: Computer entries tie landlord to Bethlehem YMCA thefts [The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) :: ]
(Morning Call (Allentown, PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 06--It was a eureka moment as authorities probed the theft of rent money at the Bethlehem YMCA's affordable housing unit.
A city detective and Northampton County Controller Stephen Barron were comparing the receipts tenants received from their landlord with the payments reported in the YMCA's accounting system. Some of the numbers didn't match, and some weren't entered at all.
But who was cooking the books?
That's when Barron said he realized that the software program tracks who makes each entry. And each questionable entry was done under property manager Theresa Leguillow Flores' password-protected user account, he said.
"Leguillow was the only one making data entries," Barron testified Wednesday at the courthouse in Easton. "The audit trail clearly shows that."
Barron was called by prosecutors on the second day of the trial of Leguillow, who is accused of stealing more than $103,000 while working for the YMCA at its 35 apartments on East Broad Street, which assist people who have fallen on hard times.
The testimony came before Assistant District Attorney James Augustine rested his case. On Thursday, the defense will begin calling witness, including an accountant who is expected to dispute Barron's conclusions.
Leguillow, 45, of Allentown is accused of providing tenants with handwritten receipts while collecting rents in cash, then underreporting the payments to hide the money she skimmed. Authorities also allege she made false debit card charges, took out unneeded emergency housing grants in tenants' names, and stole quarters from the apartments' coin-operated laundry.
Barron concluded the entire fraud amounted to $103,644, but he said he suspects it could be higher.
In some cases, residents paid rent to Leguillow for months before they were entered into the computer system, Barron said. Others may have never been entered at all, he said, given reported vacancy rates of as high as 30 percent for housing that once had a waiting list.
"Unfortunately, I won't be able to know how many of those vacant apartments were actually occupied and money was coming in completely off the books," Barron said.
Leguillow says she is innocent, with defense attorney Dwight Danser arguing the paper trail points to an entirely different conclusion than police reached. Danser said bad accounting and a poor system of controls leave it a "mystery" whether funds are missing at all, or whether they could have been stolen by someone else at the YMCA.
Danser charged Barron's methodology for documenting the thefts was slipshod and made unreasonable assumptions. Danser's accountant, John Morey, was slated to testify Wednesday afternoon, but President Judge Stephen Baratta granted a delay until morning amid an objection by Augustine.
Augustine said he had yet to see a written report by Morey outlining his conclusions, as is called for with expert testimony. Danser said Morey would prepare one overnight.
"You can't ambush the commonwealth by presenting an expert with no report," Baratta told Danser.
To the jury, Danser has argued that the YMCA's computer program performed poorly and would often crash, leading to Leguillow resorting to handwritten receipts. The YMCA's accountant, Andrew Collins, knew Leguillow's computer password, and it was he who had control of the rental money after she collected it, Danser said to cast doubt away from his client.
On Wednesday, Collins denied knowing Leguillow's password, as Danser charged. An outside accountant for the YMCA, Gregory Hall, said he annually audited the financial statements prepared by Collins and determined they were in order. Barron said his investigation cleared Collins, finding no irregularities with him.
Leguillow worked for the YMCA from July 2010 to August 2013, when she was fired for poor performance, according to testimony. In December, Leguillow was charged with crimes that include theft, receiving stolen property and forgery.
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