Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Penrod Society Victim Of Greed

A junior auditor at the politically-connected Somerset accounting firm, who volunteered as an assistant treasurer of the Penrod Society, has apparently made off with $380,000 of the art organization's funds according to an Indianapolis Star report. Somerset President and CIB Vice President Pat Early is a past president of the Penrod Society. He tells the Star that the junior auditor of his firm, Brandon Benker, resigned from his firm after he confessed to the theft through his attorney, Jim Voyles. The theft will not affect the 2009 Penrod Arts Fair this September, but it will drain the organization of any resources to offer grants. "This is not only devastating for us," said Jimmy Art, the Penrod Society's president, "but it's about as bad a time that it could happen for the arts community that counts on us." According to the Star report, the organization first learned of the theft after Voyles called the organization in late November to inform them his client had taken the money.

The story sheds no light on how Benker was able to make off with what was essentially the organization's entire revenues. A separate report at the IBJ, however, says Benker had passed off the treasurer duties to another Somerset CPA, Gene Zoellner, this year after preparing Penrod's 2007 financial reports but was still permitted access to the organization's funds and was able to write checks. The IBJ says Benker had been promoted twice by Somerset since 2005. No criminal charges have been filed against Benker to date.

UPDATE: WTHR reports that a gambling addiction is being blamed for Benker's actions.


braingirl said...

There has to be more to this story -- something just doesn't add up. The guy embezzles, then lawyers up with Voyles (who'll cost him as much as he stole) to confess? Was this guy actually a member of Penrod? On the board? Or appointed by the board treasurer? The Star story seems woefully incomplete (or poorly reported -- it's so hard to tell these days.)

Gary R. Welsh said...

I agree, braingirl. Something doesn't add up.