Jewish Journal


July 8, 2009

Harvard Hillel accountant accused of stealing $780,000



Good for the Jews? Maybe not William O’Brien, an accountant charged last week with stealing $780,000 from the Harvard Hillel. From the Crimson:

The statement released on Monday by the Attorney General’s Office said that O’Brien, a 58-year-old resident of Framingham, Mass., allegedly stole nearly $780,000 for personal use while working as a contracted financial manager for a non-profit religious organization affiliated with a local university. A Middlesex Grand Jury charged him late last week with forgery, uttering, 11 counts of larceny over $250, 2 counts of larceny by continuous scheme, and 5 counts of failure to file income tax returns, according to the release.

Uttering refers to the use or circulation of bills or documents known to be counterfeit with the intent to defraud.

Melissa Monahan, a spokeswoman contracted by Hillel to handle press inquiries about the fraud, confirmed that the organization cited in the Attorney General’s release referred to Harvard Hillel. She said that there was “no delay in [Hillel’s] taking the appropriate course of action” upon discovery of the irregularities, and that Hillel immediately hired legal counsel to explore possible responses. Lawyers had advised Hillel not to make the discoveries known to the public until now in order to avoid compromising the Attorney General’s investigation, she said.

Hillel had $8.2 million in net assets as of June 30, 2007, according to its most recent publicly available tax filings. That year, Hillel took in nearly $3 million in total revenue while fielding nearly $2 million in expenses.

Monahan said that Hillel has “not been forced to curtail programs or services as a result of this fraud,” and that there are no plans to do so at this point in time “due to the fraud or due to the economic crisis.”

Or due to Bernard Madoff ... At least with a name like O’Brien the Jewish community isn’t likely to be blamed for this alleged fraud.

Read the rest of the Crimson’s story here.

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