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Anchorage bookkeeper embezzles $90K from nonprofit

Jerzy Shedlock

An Anchorage bookkeeper who worked for a nonprofit that provides support to people with disabilities has been charged with multiple felony counts after embezzling more than $90,000.

Ruby M. Brooks stole $93,603 from multiple accounts belonging to 28 Assets, Inc. clients, according to an Anchorage Police Department press release. She allegedly purchased an Old Navy credit card with the money and used the money to fund a Las Vegas vacation.

In late April, an Assets, Inc. representative filed a report with the police department about a suspected employee theft of an unknown sum of money from multiple client accounts. A detective looked into the thefts and determined Brooks was the culprit. The 35 year old allegedly had been running the scheme since late 2011.

Assets, Inc. employs more than 400 employees; 42 percent are disabled. Their workplaces include Providence Hospital and the Alaska Court System.

Susan Newsome, the Assets employee, reported the thefts to Anchorage Police only a day after discovering that a business was not receiving compensation from one of the accounts Brooks was charged with managing. The nonprofit handles 29 bank accounts for clients who require care.

When confronted, Brooks told Newsome she had engaged in “gross mismanagement of funds.” Brooks went as far as writing and signing three pages in which she admitted to stealing the money for the last year to “cover expenses” -- and that she knew it was illegal, according to an affidavit. The confession was handed off to a detective.

Her expenses allegedly kept her from paying one client’s rent for four months, the affidavit says. Assets, Inc. also received a letter from a separate condo association lawyer stating that a client was $2,200 behind on condo dues.

An investigation and audit of a client’s financial records revealed Brooks withdrew funds to cover personal expenses. It turned out she did so with multiple accounts. In an attempt to conceal the thefts, she took more money from alternative accounts to cover the previously withdrawn funds, according to Anchorage Police.

On more than one occasion, Brooks obtained credit cards using clients’ names; she would use one of the cards as another way to cover funds removed from the dwindling accounts, according to Anchorage Police.  Brooks’ indictment alleges she purchased an Old Navy credit card with a client’s name and charged items with the card. Newsome told investigators her company had received a credit card bill for another client totaling $672. She described the client as “high functioning,” and decided to give him a call; he said he did not have a credit card.

Following investigators’ original tally of about $53,000, officers went to speak with Brooks; they wanted to know why she had stolen the money. She was short on funds, she told the detectives. She thought she could replenish the money, she continued, but it got to a point where she “just kept doing it,” the affidavit says. And eventually, Brooks said she lost track of what accounts she took money from.

Further investigation revealed the sum was closer to $90,000.  

Brooks credited her expenses to family medical expenses, the affidavit says. But she also admitted to a Las Vegas trip during which she accessed clients’ accounts when money was low. She paid for the trip with her dividend, she said.

For her alleged embezzlement, Brooks faces nine felonies and two misdemeanors. The felonies include first-degree theft, scheme to defraud and first-degree criminal impersonation, among other charges, according to court records.

Brooks' arraignment is set for June 18 in Anchorage. 

Contact Jerzy Shedlock at jerzy(at)alaskadispatch.com