While Your Part-Time Controller is more well-known for helping nonprofits improve their general financial and accounting practices, occasionally our associates’ investigations uncover suspected criminal acts. The desire to keep digging and to root out bad practices are strong motivations for YPTC, and our integrity was recognized by The Philadelphia Inquirer in this article which ran on the front page of the Business section on May 20, 2010:
THE MONEY TRAIL
By Christopher K. Hepp
Inquirer Staff Writer
APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer
It would be hard to confuse Eric Fraint with Philip Marlowe.
There is nothing about the soft-spoken, upbeat accountant that remotely suggests Raymond Chandler’s jaded, cynical gumshoe. Fraint helps do-good nonprofit groups balance their books. Tracking miscreants is not normally part of his MO.
Yet, it turns out he is no slouch when it comes to sleuthing, particularly if a crime is buried in a balance sheet.
Exhibit A: the case of William Barnes, charged last week with siphoning off $775,509.04 from the accounts of the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau while serving as the agency’s finance director.
According to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Barnes ran an elaborate embezzlement scheme for at least seven years before his 2009 retirement.
No one caught on until Fraint’s firm, Your Part-Time Controller, was brought in to go over the books earlier this year.
From then on, it was all downhill for Barnes, who, according to the District Attorney’s Office, has admitted stealing to satisfy the support demands of his third wife. He is charged with theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking, and forgery.
Fraint and his partner in the firm, Jennifer Alleva, oversaw the investigation after one of their accountants discovered a check Barnes had written to himself and wondered why.
That desire to keep digging if something seems out of place is a trait they encourage in their employees, Alleva said.
“We want our staff to go the extra mile when they are looking at things,” Alleva said. “We train our staff to have a healthy dose of skepticism.”
Which means those accountants periodically turn up crimes while trying to help nonprofit groups navigate everyday financial thickets.
“We actually find one or two cases of fraud or embezzlement each year,” said Fraint, who is founder and president of Your Part-Time Controller.
Fraint recalled one fraud that came to light with a sudden rise in the cost of an organization’s liability insurance. A call to the insurer revealed a number of recent payouts on the policy, payouts that the organization’s board had been unaware of. A trusted employee had been conducting an insurance scam, it turned out.
“Here money was being stolen that no one even knew existed,” Fraint said.
Such detective work is not the point of his business.
No, Your Part-Time Controller is the product of a lifelong desire by Fraint to put his accounting skills to some greater good.
The Wharton School graduate had put in his requisite time in the for-profit world of accounting when in 1993 he found himself taking on nonprofit organizations on a part-time basis.
“There is a concept in Judaism, tikkun olam,” Fraint said. “It means repairing the world. I grew up in a household where we were taught it was our job to leave the world a better place. When I stumbled upon nonprofits, that’s when I knew I had found my way of doing that.”
The firm provides a broad range of services, including bookkeeping, accounting, and financial planning.
Steve Wray, Executive Director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, said his organization had been working with Your Part-time Controller for about six years. It has been a natural fit, he said.
“We are not big enough to justify having a full-time controller,” Wray said, “but we want to have the experience and knowledge that comes with one. We get that with Your Part-Time Controller.”
Paul Decker, president of the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, was looking for the same thing when he hired Your Part-Time Controller. He knew what he was getting because he had worked with the firm years before while treasurer of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.
Decker said he had no idea that anything was amiss with the bureau’s books when he hired the firm. He was simply looking for an economical way to deal with accounting issues.
“Until the theft was discovered, we thought we were going to save a lot of money,” he said.
That said, he is delighted with the firm’s performance.
“If anyone had called me three months ago and asked how did I like Your Part-Time Controller, I would have said great,” he said. “Now, I really think they are great.”