Man convicted of embezzling $100,000 from O.C. Girl Scouts


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A former foreign exchange student from Ghana has been convicted of embezzling more than $100,000 from the Girl Scouts while he worked for the nonprofit, Orange County prosecutors said Thursday.

Mawufemor Bierko, 35, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one felony count of grand theft embezzlement and two felony counts of forgery, according to a statement from the Orange County district attorney’s office.


Prosecutors said Bierko was sentenced to five years and four months in custody. He was also ordered to pay $102,479 in restitution to the Girl Scouts.

Between January 2010 and February 2011, prosecutors said Bierko -- a foreign exchange student at the time -- worked as a staff accountant for the Girl Scout Council of Orange County.

Prosecutors said Bierko stole money by forging 22 checks totaling $102,479. Prosecutors said he forged two checks totaling $9,301 each month for 11 consecutive months, manipulating spreadsheet reports to cover up the amounts of the checks forged and deposited into his personal account.

The embezzlement was discovered, prosecutors said, when a supervisor found discrepancies in a financial spreadsheet, which had hidden columns with amounts entered in a white font invisible to the naked eye. The supervisor alerted the chief financial officer, and noticed a short time later that Bierko had cleared his belongings and left the office.

Bierko went to an ATM that same afternoon , where he deposited two forged checks. He then booked a one-way flight to Ghana and left the U.S, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said he returned to the U.S. and was arrested on June 30, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis., while boarding a flight to Washington Dulles International Airport en route to Ghana.


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-- Rick Rojas in Orange County