by: Chris Legeros Updated:TACOMA, Wash. —
St. Vincent de Paul is a Catholic charity dedicated to serving needy people. It's not an organization you would expect to be the target of crime, but the Tacoma office is now missing a half-million dollars.
Executive Director Charlie Thompson said, “It’s been siphoned, stolen, however you want to put it, taken from the organization.” He described the theft as embezzlement, and an "inside" job that may have spanned a decade.
Last summer, the charity's board discovered some bills weren't being paid, including $200,000 to a garbage company. Thompson said, “Items were disguised as payments to a regular vendor, one that you would expect to be paying, but they were rerouted into personal accounts.”
Two of St. Vincent’s employees were fired and the law was called.
The fallout has been layoffs. St. Vincent had to let 40 percent of its staff, a total of eleven people, go.
It had to close one of three thrift stores it operated in January. Insurance will cover some of the losses.
Thompson said there's a chance of getting restitution if someone is prosecuted for the theft. He said the FBI is investigating, but as far as he knows, no one has been arrested or charged with a crime.
The FBI isn’t talking about the case. A spokeswoman in the Seattle office would not even confirm that a federal investigation is underway.