Shock: employee accused of stealing more than $1 million from Archdiocese of New York


The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Monday arrested a Bronx woman who is accused of stealing more than $1 million from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York when she worked in the archdiocese’s finance office, law enforcement officials and church leaders said.

The woman, Anita Collins, 67, had been previously convicted of grand larceny in one case and had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in another case, but the archdiocese said it did not know of those legal troubles when she was hired, because she did not undergo a background check.

Ms. Collins worked at the headquarters of the archdiocese, at 1011 First Avenue in Manhattan, for more than eight years, first in accounts payable for the education finance office, and then for the chancery, the main office that manages the archdiocese’s extensive finances.

A law enforcement official said that though she appeared to colleagues as a quiet, unassuming woman, Ms. Collins used her position to carry out a sophisticated fraud that consisted in part of billing the archdiocese for nonexistent services and channeling the money into accounts she controlled. Because checks of $2,500 or less did not require approval from a supervisor, Ms. Collins kept the payments just under that amount, issuing over 450 such checks to herself over seven years, according to the official, Adam Kaufmann, the chief of investigations for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

“Every entity has controls in place to try to protect themselves, and the sad thing is that if you’ve got a corrupt employee they’ll find a way around the controls,” he added. Most of the money, he said in an e-mail, was spent on mortgage payments and on ”a lifestyle that was not extravagant but was far beyond her lawful means.”

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said the scheme diverted money “designated for the purpose of helping to provide Catholic education.”

Questions were raised during a routine audit, officials said, and Ms. Collins was confronted about the missing money in December. She was then fired.

Read more.


  1. This woman defrauded thousands of poor children of their chance to escape dangerous city schools to be educated in Catholic schools. May God lead her to repentance!

  2. Call the police…. money is missing!!!!!
    Transfer the priest… a child is abused!!!!

  3. naturgesetz says:

    Children were abused. Commit all the crimes you want against the Church!

    Ike —
    Why don’t you try to think logically before you post instead of trotting out this tired, bigoted irrelevancy?

  4. The Church should be covered under a fidelity bond or employee theft policy. Their risk manager I’m sure has this in place.

  5. In my former life working in insurance claims, we would audit each other’s departments. The most amazing were the fidelity bond claims; the little old lady working for years in colleges and charities ripping them off. This is nothing new because there is nothing new under the sun.

  6. Corruption is everywhere there is money. This story got little attention.

    Corruption scandal shakes Vatican as internal letters leaked
    Jan 26, 2012

    “(Reuters) – The Vatican was shaken by a corruption scandal Thursday after an Italian television investigation said a former top official had been transferred against his will after complaining about irregularities in awarding contracts.”

  7. Ronald King says:

    Child abuse is a crime against the child and the church. Get your thoughts straight.

  8. Not to be ourdone:
    In Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer it was reported that an employee of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Anita Guzzardi, the chief financial officer for the archdiocese, has stolen nearly $1 million dollars of Archdiocesan money.

    Apparently, she liked to play the slot machines in Atlantic City and to take vacations, using her American Express card. She paid those credit card bills by checks from the archdiocese.

    The alleged embezzlement went on for at least six years and it was discovered, not by archdiocesan officials but by a fraud investigator with American Express, who wondered why the archdiocese was ringing up charges at a casino.

  9. Typo correction: Not to be outdone:

  10. No background check?

  11. Joe Cleary says:

    So what ad does the the patheos advertising bot post here– how to order checks with fraud protection features….

    Most financial experts have said that the biggest defalcation ( note rarely used English word from Latin Vatican translators – latin is normative!) risks in the Church are at the parish level where controls are loose, staffing is volunteer and involves lots of cash. The stealing at the top in Philly and NY raises concerns about the quality of the business controls and oversight overall.

  12. This is very different – thie Vatican story alleges official corruption and the alleged transfer of an individual who was fighting the corruption. The sad situation reported here alleges employee theft without official sanction.

  13. I heard on the radio that background checks were not being done at the time this employee was hired. I am assuming they are being done now.

  14. Bill Russell says:

    No background check. Yet parishes of the archdiocese are under intense scrutiny. The archdiocese of NY requires full published financial statements of parishes and yet it does not publish its own financial statement. For instance, what are the expense of the archbishop and staff?

  15. At the time she was hired, background checks were not required. Since that time, with the new guidelines in place after the sex abuse scandal, all new employees are required to undergo background checks.

  16. No background check?? I don’t believe it. Fire the Risk Manager! I don’t believe this. No Fidelity insurance? Can’t be.

Leave a Comment