Big Island theft case a lesson for other nonprofits

Big Island theft case a lesson for other nonprofits

HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) -A case involving stolen travel money on the Big Island serves a reminder about protecting nonprofit funds. There are ways to prevent the crime, but it's too late for a youth football team in Hilo. The fund to pay for the Panaewa Alii players to travel to the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Florida next month is gone.

"We're going to fight tooth and nail to the end," said team mom Kaohinani Miyashiro. "We have to get them there. They've worked so hard."

Officials say the league's former treasurer is being investigated for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 from two accounts. According to the president at that time, checks required two signatures, but the woman forged his name.

"Some of my board members and presidents were inquiring as to where the treasurer's reports were and why weren't they being submitted? She wasn't showing up at meetings," explained Charles Nahale, former president of the Big Island Pop Warner Football Conference.

"Sadly, I wasn't surprised to hear about the theft. It happens quite frequently, particularly in small, non-profit organizations that are volunteer-driven," said Hugh Jones, the state's supervising deputy attorney general in the Tax & Charities Division.

Jones said it is important to have oversight from the leadership and to constantly check the finances.

"Make sure someone is reviewing the monthly bank statements who is not involved in actually writing the checks, and reconciling those statements so you get another set of eyes on those things," Jones said.

"They should also have those checks and balances, having someone else audit their records internally on a regular basis," said Miyashiro.

A fundraiser for the team will be held at the Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium on November 30. The event will include a concert, a hunting tournament and other activities.

For more tips, click here for "Top Ten Internal Controls All Nonprofits Should Implement"

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