Friday, March 04, 2011
Criminals and Crazies: Crumb Takes a Plea
While everyone was moving on with their lives, the State wasn't done with Sharon. Once her effort to defraud the public was confirmed and the extent of her ill-gotten gains was determined, the fraud case--which is a civil matter, as you might recall--was concluded and Criminal Justice stepped in. Sharon was prosecuted for her crimes.
The following is the public record of the upshot of that prosecution, which was filed yesterday:
LAW DIVISION - CRIMINAL
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
PROSECUTION #2011-03-00068 A
SHARON CATALANO-CRUMB having in writing waived indictment and trial by jury
on the charge of third degree theft by deception, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2c:20-4 and having
requested to be tried upon Accusation before this court, and said request having been granted;
Deputy Attorney General Michael J. Rappa of the Division of Criminal Justice for the
State of New Jersey, alleges that:
(Theft by Deception - Third Degree)
S HARON CATALANO-CRUMB Between on or about September l, 2009 and on or about September 30, 2010 at the Town of Phillipsburg, in the county of Warren, elsewhere, and within the jurisdiction
of this court, did purposely obtain property of another in an amount of $500 or more by deception. That the said SHARON CATALANO-CRUMB did purposely obtain approximately $57,129 in charitable
contributions from individuals who are known to the state of New Jersey, by creating or reinforcing
the false impression that the charitable contributions would be used for the rescue of horses and for the transportation, feeding, boarding and care of rescued horses;
WHEREAS IN TRUTH AND IN FACT, as the said SHARON CATALANO-CRUMB
then and there well knew, the charitable contributions would not be used, for the rescue of horses, and used said money for her own purposes, ail contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2c:20-4 and
N.J.S.A. 2c: 20-4 and against the peace of this state, the government and dignity of the
PAULA T. DOW
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW JERSEY
There has been endless discussion online and elsewhere regarding the regulations surrounding charitable organizations and fund-raising in general. Some folks are still holding out hope that if they collect money under someone's (theirs or someone else's) charitable umbrella, it can be applied to goodies that will benefit them personally. "But if I don't pay my mortgage, I won't be around to run the rescue operation" does not constitute an acceptable stretch of the mission statement under which you operate. "I really wanted to travel to ________ to check out their rescue and the travel expenses should be considered business-related" is another totally awesome attempt to illegally siphon cash out of a charitable pot. You can fill in the rest from what you've seen and heard.
If you are running a charitable organization of any type or raising funds for one, a squeaky-clean and clear audit trail is the name of the game. When you applied for your tax-exempt status, you were asked to construct a mission statement that had to receive approval for the IRS to decide you deserved to avoid paying taxes on the income. If you included personal expenses, it is likely that you did not pass muster. If you can talk a donor into giving you money specifically for that new whatever that you think will somehow help you function even though it's not directly applicable to the work the charity is assumed to be doing, and if you're willing to pay income tax on the amount because it's truly just that--personal income--more power to you, but make sure you have lots of documentation signed by everyone in triplicate to prove that's what you've done. Witnesses come out of the woodwork at the least opportune moment.
Above all, know that criminal prosecution is not a joke. Sharon Crumb will eventually have to pay to the State all the money she stole in order to avoid incarceration. If she fails, she will wind up in prison. Her future is forever stained by this criminal judgment. If you want yours to fall under the same shadow, that's your choice. Greed is a hairy, multi-talented monster that tends to fall short as an excuse in court and everywhere else. Check with Bernie Madoff if you're not clear on that.
Donors, heed the warning. It's been offered repeatedly, so if you aren't listening, you are foolish and deserve whatever comes your way. Know to whom you donate, and keep it local so you can follow up. Ask for paperwork, receipts, documentation of tax-exempt status...whatever you need to make you happy with your donation. Don't be shy. It's your money, and there are a lot of hands reaching for it.
Charities, licit and illicit, if there's more that needs to be said, I can't imagine what that might be. Go Forth and Clean Thy Books!