Risk Management

Patient with Pups, but Tough on Troubled Treasurers

American Spaniel Club presses charges against gambling-addicted exec, who gets 15 years probation and a payback plan.
Stephen Taub and Roy HarrisMay 19, 2008

The former treasurer of the American Spaniel Club, after pleading guilty to stealing $120,000 by writing checks to herself to support a gambling habit, received 15 years probation as her sentence. She was also ordered to pay $500 monthly until June 2009, and $1,000 thereafter, according to the Tampa Tribune.

But the ex-executive, Barbara Lippincott, questions whether the club could have gotten the same result without pressing charges against her. About $45,000 will go to the club and the remaining $75,000 will go to the club’s insurance carrier, according to newspaper.

Lippincott agreed to plead guilty to two counts of grand theft under a deal worked out to allow her to make restitution. She is currently working part-time teaching accounting. “Obviously, the club and the board of directors felt greatly betrayed, but the restitution aspect was much more important for the good of the club, particularly in light of the fact that she had been a good treasurer,” Linda Moore, the club’s legal adviser, told the paper.

Lippincott was arrested last August and accused of writing 71 checks to herself between July 2006 and March 2007 to fund her Internet gambling addiction.

For Lippincott’s part, the sense of betrayal was mutual. “I am a compulsive gambler,” she said in an E-mail response to CFO.com seeking her comment. “The misappropriation of funds was a direct result of my gambling addiction.” After getting help for the addiction, she wrote, she offered to begin restitution of the embezzled funds, but was thwarted when the club filed charges.

“Once I got help for the addiction, my only goal has been to repay the funds that were taken,” she said, noting that at one point before getting her addiction under control, she attempted to take her own life. “Had the club not filed charges (and thereby avoided the loss of my job), I could have repaid the funds in approximately five years. They chose to file charges, which has limited my ability to get work.”

She added, “The club did not have any controls in place that could have prevented or at least minimized the amount of funds taken and were not aware of the loss until notified by my attorney — after my attempted suicide last March.”

The American Spaniel Club could not be reached immediately for comment.

According to Lippincott’s E-mail, “I have not gambled since the day I attempted suicide, and am getting all of the appropriate help to ensure that I never gamble again. For over 53 years, until the gambling began, I was a responsible, contributing member of society — and plan to live the rest of my life in that same way.”