A Minneapolis woman was sentenced for swindling money from a nonprofit she worked at while she was on probation for defrauding a different nonprofit. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced last month that Cynthia Waight, 55, was sentenced to probation and one year at a workhouse. She had pleaded guilty to identity theft and theft-by-swindle in July. She was also ordered to repay the money she stole.
According to a criminal complaint, Waight was investigated by a special agent with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) because most of the more than $80,000 she stole were federal funds.
Waight was hired by Vail Place in July 2014 as a housing manager where she oversaw the organization’s work with the Crisis Housing Fund, which had a pool of public money designed to help people with mental health issues who could lose their home or apartment because of the illnesses.
The complaint states Vail Place would normally submit a handful of applications each year, but by 2016, Waight was submitting up to three per month, and instead of making checks out to the landlord or other companies, she began writing them out to cash by October 2015.
An analysis of Vail Place’s bank account found that $96,270 in Crisis Housing funds were deposited into the account from October 2015 through January 2017. During that time, $97,442 was withdrawn from the account through checks signed by Waight, and $81,901 of that was written out to cash, the complaint states.
The attorney’s office said investigators seized records of Waight’s personal bank accounts and revealed that between October 2015 and November 2016 she deposited more than $22,000 in cash in her accounts, and many of the deposits lined up exactly with times when she withdrew money from the Vail Place account.
She was charged with two counts of theft-by-swindle on May 25, 2016, in connection with her previous employment at Resource Inc., a nonprofit that helps underserved populations. The attorney’s office said Waight used clients from Resource’s Homeless Outreach project to embezzle over $25,000 from the nonprofit.