Lisa Herbenko, 49, allegedly siphoned $398,620.87 from the coffers of the Reading Education Association (REA). The organization, which advocates for the educational professionals and the students of Reading, PA, has been under investigation by the Berks County District Attorney's office since September 2022.
That's when they discovered that Herbenko, who had served as the REA's treasurer but who has since resigned from her position, had allegedly made several withdrawals from the REA's bank accounts. She then deposited the money into her personal bank account as well as an account she had set up in her minor daughter's name. The thefts date back to 2014.
Additionally, Herbenko failed to pay the REA's state and local taxes and its dues to the Pennsylvania State Education Association. To cover up her crimes, said the District Attorney's office, she then filed falsified treasurer's reports.
The Perception of White-Collar Crime
The crimes that Herbenko is accused of are known as white-collar crimes. These offenses include crimes such as tax fraud, identity fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, insider trading, operating Ponzi schemes and other fraudulent investment scams, and falsification of financial records.
Public perception is that these crimes always involve millions of dollars stashed in Swiss banks or offshore accounts; pinstripe-suited financiers, bankers, and stockbrokers; and anonymous whistle-blowers.
That's thanks to high-profile scandals that expose white-collar criminals who then, often, become household names: Bernie Madoff, Michael Milken, Frank Abagnale, and the wheelers and dealers implicated in the Enron scandal.
The Reality of White-Collar Crime
The reality, however, reveals that crimes perpetrated by the 1% aren't the only white-collar offenses—far from it. While it is true that the vast majority of these crimes are committed by middle-aged white men who are married and gainfully employed, they aren't necessarily fat-cat Wall Street types. Instead, they are accountants, salesmen, vendors and suppliers, employees at non-profits, middle managers, the CEOs, CFOs, and VPs of smaller corporations, and even customer service associates and administrative staff.
Accused of Theft by Finding, Embezzlement, Fraud, or Other Financial Crimes?
Given how intricate and complex financial records can be, it's no surprise that many accusations of crimes leveled at white-collar employees turn out to be unfounded. In other cases, the temptation of taking a sliver more than your fair share of the pie proves too difficult to resist—but it's a one-time offense, less likely to be repeated than so-called street crimes involving guns, drugs, and violence.
In either scenario, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney, someone who understands the nuances of financial transactions and recordkeeping, someone who can navigate through the Byzantine labyrinth of legal proceedings. That someone is Joseph D. Lento. Along with his Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm, he can help those accused of white-collar crimes clear up complicated matters and restore their professional reputation and good name. For more information, or to schedule a consultation to review your case, call 1-888-535-3686 today.