NEW YORK -- A 67-year-old woman with a criminal record for theft has been charged with siphoning $1 million in donations while working in a finance office of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, church officials announced Monday.
The archdiocese said it did not conduct a criminal background check when the employee, Anita Collins, was hired in 2003. Collins' complex scheme drained money from an education fund at the same time the church was closing Catholic schools.
Church and law enforcement officials said over seven years, Collins sent fake invoices to the archdiocese, then issued about 450 checks to accounts she controlled, all in amounts just under the $2,500 threshold that would have required a supervisor's approval.
Most of the money was apparently siphoned from the accounts payable system in the archdiocesan Department of Education Finance Office, according to a statement from archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling.
In a 2010 article in the archdiocese newspaper Catholic New York, Collins was lauded for volunteering at St. Patrick's Cathedral when Archbishop Timothy Dolan presided over a Mass welcoming 600 people to Catholicism.