In 1993, a successful Ukiah, California business couple -Viola and Oscar Allen- having no living heirs, set up a trust fund so that female graduates of Ukiah High School wishing to pursue a career in medical studies would have a perpetual scholarship available to them. The Allens then appointed James L. Harrison, 62, former VP of the local Savings Bank of Mendocino County, as trustee. But instead of distributing the trust assets after their deaths to the scholarship, Mr. Harrison used the Allen Trust as his own personal piggy bank for fourteen years.
State prosecutors presented evidence that beginning in the mid 1990s, Harrison “surreptitiously stole trust funds and committed tax evasion.” An agent assigned to the state special crimes unit presented a detailed history of the alleged account abuses in a fourteen page declaration filed in the criminal case.
State investigators eventually accused Harrison of embezzling approximately $421,638.00 from the trust account. Included was $129,987 in trust money diverted by Harrison over a nine year period to a daughter for her rent, vehicle purchase, school supplies, and a down payment on a home. As well as cash totaling $72,039 taken from the trust and deposited directly into Harrison’s personal bank accounts; use of a $72,782 to help purchase lake front property; purchase of a Chevy Tahoe SUV in the amount of $30,255; use of $123,000 to invest in the local airport in his own name; and purchase of $21,375 Savings Bank stock shares in his own name; and payment of personal credit card balances totaling $11,600.
Harrison also spent $49,360 of trust money on attorney fees for the criminal and civil cases stemming from the embezzlement charges.
In a 2007 deposition relating to the civil suit, Harrison said that any money he took from the trust “was money Viola Allen would have given him anyway as he was the son she never had.”
In February 2009, Harrison entered no contest pleas to felonies on three different counts and received a sweetheart sentence in return.
- Misappropriation of trust assets (Penal Code §§ 487/506);
- Filing willfully false tax returns (Revenue and Taxation Code § 19705(a)(1));
- Admittedly taking in excess of $200,000 (Penal Code § 12022.6(a)(2))
Harrison received a year’s sentence in county jail and three years probation.
That’s not a bad deal for getting caught looting over half a million dollars of a charitable trust fund for fourteen years.
Additional terms of his case include a lifetime ban from serving as trustee of any charitable trust, as well as a lifetime ban from serving as a Director, Officer, or in any fiduciary position that affect money management of assets controlled by any charitable trust or any nonprofit entity. But cheer up, Jim, the terms of your sentencing do not prohibit you from working for Goldman Sachs or any of the other Big Four banks that controls 40% of market share. So you can always go work for a “too big to fail” national bank and put the screws to the rest of us in the same manner they are.
See, the way it works when you’re a white-collar banking criminal is that when you’re entrusted with over half a rock to set up a trust fund for a scholarship, putting the money into your own pocket instead is OK because you could claim that the clients who appointed you would have just given it to you anyway.
I mean, that’s why they asked you to set up a charitable scholarship fund. Because really, they wanted you to have all the money, but their mouths weren’t working correctly that day. Fortunately for your clients, however, you’re part of the psychic friends network.
Of course, you would make this claim only after the clients were dead. It wouldn’t be a convenient excuse or anything, it would be completely credible because you, the big wheel, elite investment banker, said so.
Fiduciary duty, my ass. There are more substantive penalties for welfare fraud than there are for embezzling money.
Note here that this fact is also why the entire global economy is in a meltdown. So much for “change” we can believe in, eh?
Rock on, Chowdah Ken, you’re just another tool in a long line, and, Caribou Barbie probably has more brain cells than you do, but the Commonwealth of Massachusetts just proved that liberal Democrats are the flip side of the same conservative Republican coin.
Meet the new boss, same as the old one.
Douchebags, one and all.
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