Society
Society

Animal Rescue Organization Co-Founder Leanne Parks Guilty of Embezzling $100K in Donated Funds

| by Denise A Justin

On Tuesday, Leanne Parks, the co-founder of Beagles of New England States (B.O.N.E.S.), was sentenced to three years in prison, with all but 18 months suspended for stealing nearly $100,000 from B.O.N.E.S. over a four-year period while she was its President.

According to the Bangor Daily News, Parks, 39, was also given three years of probation and ordered to pay $94,655 in restitution. District Court Judge Gregory Campbell stayed her sentence at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham until June 21, 2013.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin, told Judge Campbell that, between July 2005 and June 2009 (when the theft was uncovered by other B.O.N.E.S. board members), Parks diverted more than half the checks written to the organization to a secret bank account, according to the report.

Parks co-founded B.O.N.E.S. in 2003 and “systematically diverted funds intended to pay veterinary bills, buy dog food and supplies for the rescued dogs, and to reimburse volunteers for expenses,” Robbin told the court. She said Parks spent the money for personal expenses at retail stores, including Bed Bath & Beyond, Victoria’s Secret, Linens ‘n Things, T.J. Maxx, and more than a dozen others.

Parks could only be charged with stealing $94,655 due to the six-year statute of limitations, Robbin said, but the total amount stolen was $114,930.

Before being sentenced, Parks pleaded guilty to one count of Class B theft, the BDN reported. The prosecutor told reporters after the hearing that Parks had paid nothing toward restitution before sentencing.

Of course, the main victims are the animals who needed care and those individuals who donated for that purpose. But this violation of law and ethics is also tragic for the sincere, honest and devoted officers and volunteers who trusted Leanne Parks, said Sharon Vartanian, treasurer of B.O.N.E.S. There is no way to estimate the damage she caused to the organization’s reputation, she said, stating that more than money had been lost--the trust in the organization has been damaged.

“While the theft has been hard on members of the organization, the dogs suffered the most,” Vartanian lamented, estimating that the loss of that amount of money may have caused 190 sick dogs to be euthanized because there were insufficient funds to provide the care they needed.

Ironically, Leanne Parks reportedly worked as a dispatcher for the Bangor police from June 16, 2009, until Feb. 4, 2013, when she resigned. She had also served for several years on the board of the Bangor Humane Society beginning in 2002, according to the BDN report.

Parks’ ex-husband said the mother of the couple’s two children, ages 7 and 9, was a woman devoted to her family and animals, especially the dogs she helped rescue.

Leanne Parks told Judge Campbell that she takes responsibility for her actions. “I have never wavered from my commitment to rescue dogs,” she said. Parks also said the she might never recover financially from the sentence and restitution order and, in order to pay it, she might have to sell her home and car, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Source: Bangor Daily News