Sewickley police have charged a Leet Township woman with stealing $6,194 from the Union Aid Society.
Tracey Gist, 45, of Pilgrim Drive, is facing seven counts each of forgery and theft by unlawful taking, and one count of access device fraud.
According to a criminal complaint, Gist served as treasurer of the Union Aid Society when she forged seven checks between the start of her term as treasurer on June 1, 2010 and May to pay personal bills.
Union Aid is a 110-year-old nonprofit that provides emergency financial assistance, among other programs, to qualifying residents from the 11 communities within the Quaker Valley School District.
Sherri Leifman, executive director, said the incident has had no impact on Union Aid's services to the community.
“When we discovered the problem we turned it over to the authorities and are continuing to cooperate with them,” Leifman said. “Ms. Gist is no longer on our board. We are confident with the controls we have in place.”
As a volunteer treasurer, police said Gist was authorized to print, distribute and sign checks.
In June, police said Leifman and Union Aid president Gretchan Burnham were reviewing fiscal year records in preparation for their annual review when they noticed a discrepancy with a client's financial aid amount.
After pulling the client’s file, police said a discrepancy was discovered between the $185 aid amount on file and the $682 the accounting software system showed the client had received. The inconsistency prompted a further review of the records and uncovered more discrepancies, police said.
Six checks totaling $1,189 obtained from the bank showed Gist used funds to pay her electric and gas utilities at home. The checks dated from June 2011 to May.
When Union Aid leaders spoke to Gist the following day, police said she admitted to forging the checks because she was in financial distress. She immediately resigned.
Further Union Aid investigations beginning at the start of Gist’s term as treasurer showed she cashed an additional $5,000 check on Dec. 22, 2010. Police said Union Aid officials again questioned Gist in July and she admitted to using the money. More than a week later, police said she gave the nonprofit a $1,200 check that stated it was to repay the utility payments with interest.
Police on Aug. 2 interviewed Gist, who admitted using the $5,000 as a loan because her house was in foreclosure. Union Aid officials told police the nonprofit does not issue loans under any circumstances.
Gist is expected to turn herself in Thursday in response to an arrest warrant, according to Leetsdale District Court.