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Bookkeeper Accused Of Stealing From Veterans Group In Connecticut

Cynthia Tanner (credit: Darien Police)

Cynthia Tanner (credit: Darien Police)

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DARIEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A bookkeeper for the National Veteran Services Fund was arrested Monday and accused of embezzling more than $830,000 from that charity.

Cynthia Tanner, 52 of Darien, was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail while awaiting arraignment on a charge of first-degree larceny. It was not immediately clear whether she had hired an attorney.

Officials went to police after an internal audit found some “questionable entries” on financial statements, said Phillip Kraft, the executive director of the charity.

The National Veteran Services Fund, which was previously known as the Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Victims Inc., provides social services and medical assistance to Vietnam and Persian Gulf War veterans and their families, especially those with disabled children, according to its website.

It says donated funds are used to pay for such things as utilities, temporary housing, car repairs or to provide veterans with items such as wheelchairs and ramps.

The organization includes two full-time and two part-time employees, according to its website.

Police said they discovered that Tanner, who handled the payroll and financial disbursements for the organization since 2008, had been writing unauthorized checks to herself and family members while reporting in a fabricated financial ledger that the money was going to veterans.

She also made electronic payments for her car loans and was using the company credit cards for personal expenses such as airfare, vacations and Internet purchases, police said.

The charges involved 135 unauthorized checks for over $185,000 that were written to Tanner and family members in 2013, police said. But, police said, they estimate she took more than $830,000 over five years from the organization’s checking account alone.

Upon her arrest, Tanner told police she hoped to repay the money, but expressed surprise when police told her how much money she’s accused of stealing, Sgt. Jeremiah Marron told WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau.

Tanner faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of larceny.

Further arrest warrants are anticipated, police said.

Kraft said he wanted to assure donors that the organization was cooperating with police, would continue its work and is still accepting donations.

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