Bronx Woman Accused Of Embezzling $1 Million From Archdiocese Of New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Bronx woman who worked for the New York Archdiocese is accused of embezzling more than $1 million from the church.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office said 67-year-old Anita Collins was employed in the archdiocese’s finance office since 2003. Prosecutors said she billed the archdiocese for non-existent services and channeled the money into accounts she controlled.

WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell On The Case

Collins was fired from her job in December after the alleged fraud was uncovered by the archdiocese. She appeared at her arraignment Monday night as a single still camera clicked away. A trusted employee is now disgraced.

“She’s incredibly remorseful and ashamed. Yes, her hands were trembling. She’s an elderly woman. She’s taking it very hard,” attorney Howard Simmons told CBS 2’s Lou Young.

Police were seen earlier Monday taking pieces of artwork and boxes of what were described as “expensive high-end dolls” from her home, along with records that indicate some dramatic spending habits:

* $18,000 worth of furniture from Bloomingdales

* $23,000 in clothing from Barney’s

* $14,000 from Brooks Brothers

* $19,000 worth of incidentals from the Irish gift shop

It turns out Collins has a criminal past that the archdiocese didn’t know about. In 1999, she pleaded guilty to grand larceny of $46,000 from a temporary employment agency.

“She was actually hired almost immediately before our criminal background check went into effect,” archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said.

“There will always be individuals who seek to exploit and circumvent whatever system is established, but we will remain vigilant in our oversight. We are continually working to improve our financial controls in order to prevent such occurrences from happening,” Zwilling added.

Collins’ neighbors were very surprised about the revelation.

“She seems nice; seems like a hard-working woman, believe me,” Cookie Laterra told CBS 2’s John Slattery.

Added Zwilling, Collins is “a very quiet woman, unassuming woman who went about doing her business.”

Her business turned out to be diverting huge sums of cash to herself, according to the archdiocese.

“She would issue checks for herself for personal use that she would make appear as if they were going for legitimate expenses of the Department of Education,” Zwilling said.

Collins allegedly issued 450 checks of $2,500 or less, which was below a threshold for approval. And if you believe her attorney she may not have been able to stop herself.

“Sometimes people just can’t help themselves. It’s like someone who gambles and can’t stop gambling. I’ll be reaching out to the Archdiocese personally to find out what they want in this case,” Simmons said.

Collins’ attorney said he isn’t asking for absolution, just a plea deal that’ll get at least some of its money back. His client will be back before a judge next week in Manhattan after the case goes before a grand jury.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …

  • allen

    I sometimes do not quite understand people,governments,religous orgs.ect.when a religous person (catholic) is busted for having sex with a little boy, or a mentally ill little girl.The higher archy of that church does not have alot to say about the incedent or the person who comitted the crimes.But! As soon as a little old laddy steels some of there money,The catholic church has alot to say about this person.I dont get it.Is this the type of church the people need?

    • Neil Allen

      Catholics love money, not children.

      That’s why they will prosecute this woman, and make an example out of her, but will hide known child rapists, then lie about them, and fight the victims of child rape.

  • UGH!

    Shame on Joseph Zwilling, spokesman (and I think in house counsel) for the Archdiocese of NY. That good ole boys club over there has no clue what “do the right thing” means. The Archdiocese isn’t very up on their due diligence apparently, even with their own money! When a priest talks an old lady out of her money, Zwilling says “oh sorry, we can’t help you, parish priests are independent contractors, so you have to sue him yourself to get your money back”. So now what goes around comes around, but, oh wait, ALL of that money comes from the faithful! So we pay the price once again, or should I say those unfortunate people who still give money to the church do. They need to clean up their act over at the Archdiocese of NY and all the way to Rome. Doesn’t God command us to be good Shepherds? Shouldn’t that mean with children, employees, money AND priests? Pathetic!

  • Jean

    “She’s an elderly woman”, “quiet and unassuming” That’s what they all say until they find a body in the basement. She knew exactly what she was doing and that’s why she was able to get away with it for so long



  • wow

    Wow thats insane … ha ha she will be punished and god will get her old wrinkly ass ~

  • Rodin

    Considering what the Archdiocese of NY embezzles from the ‘faithful’ ….

  • Patrick OMalley

    There was more than one million dollar theft, and that’s just today!!

    In New York, Anita Collins steals $1 million from the Catholic church (over 6 years), and gets caught today.

    In Philadelphia, in a separate case, on the same day, a woman named Anita Guzzardi got caught stealing $1 million from the Catholic church over 6 months.

    How awesome is it that the Catholic church has so much money that they don’t even notice when a MILLION dollars is missing for months or years, in two different places?.

    First, rampant child rape. Now well probably get 100,000+ cases of embezzling and theft.

    • royallen

      A spit in the bucket,compared to what they have paid out to victims of Priestky abuse………………………..sad as it may be



      • Rodin

        “People seem to be offended by facts, or what used to be called truth.” ~ FRANCIS BACON

      • Patrick OMalley

        Father Templar,

        Thanks for your advice. Now learn to type in lowercase, and please stay away from children.

  • royallen

    When you hire convicted criminals,without doing a backround check,this is what you get

  • Bman

    If shes black or hispanic, sheslll get jail time =, definlty !

    • royallen

      She didn’t get jail time or prison the first time,why would you think she will this time around? and what does race have to do with it ?

  • Kevin

    so what, she stole 1 million from the Archdiocese?
    How about Sister Suzie stealing a million from Iona College tuitions?
    She got a slap on the wrist…no jail…big joke!

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