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St. Louis non-profit loses more than money in embezzlement case

by Mark Schnyder

Posted on November 6, 2009 at 8:49 PM

I'm always angered, frustrated but mostly saddened when I hear about stories like what happened at Project Inc. a non-profit that helps train and find jobs for adults with developmental disabilities.

A trusted colleague and friend of all who worked there, allegedly ripped them off right under their noses... all the while seeming to be a top-notch employee everyone likes.

According to a federal indictment, Roxanna Bollwerk, the former account manager for Project Inc. wrote checks to herself and cleverly hid what she was doing for the last 12 years.  (She'd worked there for 20 years before being fired this summer).  She allegedly stole $800,000 over that time and spent it all.

Why did it take 12 years to figure this out?  Apparently Bollwerk was THAT GOOD at what she was doing.  The CEO of Project Inc. explained to me that have an independent audit every year.  Apparently Bollwerk slipped up before the latest audit because all fingers pointed to her when irregularities were discovered.

According to the CEO Deborah Hostetter, Bollwerk admitted to her what she'd been doing and didn't want anyone else to find out.  I don't blame her.

Hostetter says Project Inc is going to be just fine.  Insurance reimbursed them for about 65% ($520,000) of their $800,000 loss over the years.

She says the emotional toll is as bad or worse than the financial one. 

Hostetter told me, "To know somebody who's trusted and seems to care so much, it's devastating to find out they could do something as abominable as this... And our people loved her and trusted her and they're a wonderful group of people and they trust anybody who treats them well."