Mark Twain House employee embezzled $1 million


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An employee of the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Conn., has admitted in court to embezzling $1 million from the organization that maintains the author’s historic home. The Mark Twain House, like the homes of some of America’s other best-known writers, has faced financial difficulties. Most, however, were not systematically plundered.

Longtime (and now former) staffer Donna Gregory regularly raided the organization’s coffers for eight years; she pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return, Reuters reports.


According to court documents, Gregor submitted false information over the Internet to the Mark Twain House payroll vendor between 2002 and 2010. The misinformation allowed additional pay to which she was not entitled to be deposited into her bank account, classified as payroll advances. She then adjusted the ledgers to cover up the advances by reclassifying the amounts as utilities, maintenance and similar items. She also falsified the Mark Twain House’s bank statements to hide the advances, authorities said. Gregor used the Mark Twain House’s check-writing system to write checks payable to herself and forged her supervisor’s signatures on those checks, authorities said.

A board member of the home said the fraud was discovered when a bank staffer questioned some signatures. Gregory faces a maximum of 23 years in prison, a $2-million fine and will be ordered to pay back the Mark Twain House and its insurance company.


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[For the Record, 6:16 p.m., Aug. 9: An earlier version of this post said the Twain House is in West Hartford, Conn.]

-- Carolyn Kellogg