LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A former bookkeeper for the Little Sisters of the Poor in Louisville was charged Wednesday with embezzling more than $200,000 from the charity, then using the money to buy herself a new car, among other items.
Federal prosecutors in Louisville released a criminal complaint against Mary "Kathy" Montfort, who worked for the charity from 2005 through this month, detailing accusations that Montfort forged the names of nuns in writing 43 checks on the organization's account between April 2010 and November 2011.
U.S. Secret Service Agent John Spruill wrote in the complaint that Montfort used some of the money to buy two cars, a 2010 Ford Fusion and a 2008 Mercury Grand Marquis.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Moyer appointed the federal public defender's office for Montfort, who said she could not afford an attorney. Moyer released Montfort from custody. After the hearing, Montfort left the
U.S. District Courthouse in Louisville without commenting on the charges.
The case arose earlier this month, when a nun with Little Sisters of the Poor, who operate St. Joseph's Home for the Aged in Louisville, called police to report suspicions that Montfort was embezzling from the organization.
"She forges the signatures on actual checks of employees from that organization," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Calhoun said.
The nun, identified only as "M.C." in the criminal complaint, told officers that Fifth Third Bank called to verify a $14,742 check deposited in an account belonging to one of Montfort's relatives while Montfort was on vacation. After determining the check was fraudulent, the bank conducted a review and found 43 checks totaling $200,294.84 paid to a relative of Montfort's from April 7, 2010 through Nov. 10, 2011, Spruill wrote.
Spruill said Montfort told investigators she started forging the signatures of nuns in 2007, while her family was having financial issues. To cover the embezzlement, Montfort would make a false entry in the business accounting software to show payment to a vendor in the amount taken, Spruill wrote.
Montfort told investigators the purloined funds were used to pay bills, take trips to Tennessee and Indiana and pay a family member's rent, along with the purchase of the two cars, Spruill wrote. Spruill wrote that investigators found both vehicles at Montfort's home.
No one else has been charged as of Wednesday afternoon.
A message left for the Little Sisters of the Poor was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.
Calhoun said the case will go to the grand jury in early December. Montfort is due back in court on Dec. 20 for arraignment.
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