AMERCIAS - City officials, completing an audit, have said that the former Executive Director of the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, New Mexico, embezzled more than half a million dollars from the bureau before committing suicide.
According to local newspaper the Daily Times, Debbie Dusenbery committed suicide by a gunshot wound to the head three weeks following the allegations that she embezzled money for luxury trips and other personal expenses.
Local auditors Solga and Jakino PA were hired by city officials to conduct a complete audit, which was finalised on 15 May. Farmington Police Sergeant Robert Perez said the audit found Dusenbery embezzled US$547,000 with $66,000 on meals, petrol and hotels, which was never approved by the bureau’s board of directors.
"This amount was from suspected fraudulent expenditures which exceeded or circumvented all (visitors bureau) guidelines and approval mechanisms," he said.
In an email to police in January Dunsenbery said she had used $100,000 to pay her credit card bills and an equity loan. The auditors found 60 airline tickets for Dunsenbery and her friends to places such as Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Belize.
She had told co-workers the money was to pay for medical treatments for her terminal cancer, but no evidence has been found to substantiate this.
Recently, CMW reported similar cases of embezzled funds from convention bureaus. William Barnes, the former Finance Director for the Philadelphia-based Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau died in jail, where he was serving time for embezzling US$700,000 from the bureau. In November 2011, two women, one of whom was the former director of the Yazoo County Convention and Visitors Bureau in Mississippi, pleaded guilty to embezzlement.
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