|For Immediate Release
Case # 12HF0133
January 31, 2013
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
FORMER FOREIGN-EXCHANGE STUDENT CONVICTED OF EMBEZZLING OVER $100,000 FROM GIRLS SCOUTS
SANTA ANA – A former foreign-exchange student was convicted yesterday of embezzling over $100,000 from the Girl Scout Council of Orange County (Girl Scouts) while working for the non-profit. Mawufemor Biekro, 35, Ghana, pleaded guilty Jan. 30, 2013, to one felony count of grand theft embezzlement and two felony counts of forgery with a sentencing enhancement of excess taking for property loss over $65,000. He was sentenced under the new California sentencing scheme to five years and four months in custody, to be served as two years and four months in jail and three years under mandatory supervision. He was also ordered to pay $102,479 in restitution to the Girl Scouts.
At the time of crime, Biekro was a foreign-exchange student from Ghana and worked for the Girl Scouts, a non-profit charity organization.
Between January 2010 and February 2011, Biekro worked as a staff accountant, which included handling payroll and reconciling account ledgers. The embezzlement began shortly after he was hired in January 2010. The defendant stole money by fraudulently forging 22 checks totaling $102,479. The embezzlement involved forging two checks totaling $9,301 each month for 11 consecutive months and manipulating Excel spreadsheet reports to cover up the amounts of the forged checks he wrote and deposited into his personal accounts.
The embezzlement was discovered in February 2011 when a supervisor found discrepancies in a financial spreadsheet prepared by Biekro, which contained hidden columns with amounts entered in white font invisible to the naked eye. The supervisor notified the Chief Financial Officer, and a short time later they discovered that Biekro had cleared out his personal belongings and left the office. That same afternoon, Biekro went to ATMs and deposited two of the forged checks into his personal account. The defendant later booked a one-way flight to Ghana and left the United States.
Biekro later returned to the United States and, on June 30, 2012, he was arrested on a warrant in Green Bay, WI, while boarding a flight to Washington Dulles International Airport en route to Ghana.
Deputy District Attorney Chuck Lawhorn of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.