A former finance director of the Massachusetts Teachers Association has been charged with stealing $802,000 from the union’s coffers over a six-year period.
Richard Anzivino, 48, allegedly erected a complex embezzlement scheme to raid the association’s bank account from 1996 to 2002 for his personal use, said Beth Stone, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly.
Mr. Anzivino was indicted by a Suffolk County grand jury on seven counts of larceny and fraud last month, Ms. Stone said. He is scheduled to be arraigned on April 23 and faces a maximum of 10 years in state prison if convicted of the charges.
A letter sent by the association to its members, dated March 21, states that Ed Sullivan, the MTA’s executive director-treasurer, confronted Mr. Anzivino last September, after being alerted to a potential problem. The former finance director admitted wrongdoing, the letter said, and was immediately fired. He had served in the position since 1994 and previously had worked as the assistant finance director, beginning in 1988, according to union sources.
Union officials said the alleged plot was so intricate that not even standard accountability procedures unearthed the problem. Instead, Mr. Anzivino’s bank alerted the union’s bank about suspicious activities that were then brought to the union’s attention.
“The MTA was the victim of a crime,” Ann Clarke, the general counsel for the 97,000-member union, an affiliate of the National Education Association, said in a statement. “But there will be no impact on member dues or to our programs and services, as we are fully insured for the loss.”
Steps have been taken to provide better financial accountability within the union, she said.
Audits and Oversight
Mr. Anzivino, who Ms. Stone said did not yet have a lawyer, could not be reached for comment.
Beginning in 1996, Mr. Anzivino allegedly wrote 270 checks to himself, which he then cashed or deposited into his personal checking account, the attorney general’s office reported. Each check was for $5,000 or less, ensuring that the transaction did not have to be approved by another union official.
“This occurred despite due diligence on the part of the MTA,” the March 21 letter from the union said. “Standard professional year-end audits by professional accountants had been done in each of the years in question.”
Matthew M. Delaney, an art teacher at Whitman- Hanson Regional High School in suburban Boston, suggested that the NEA should provide closer oversight of its state affiliates.
The alleged embezzlement “does not break my trust in the union,” he said. “But this is a red flag that [both organizations] need to pay more attention.”
The NEA already provides “excellent accountability” for state affiliates, said Kathleen Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based organization. The parent body reviews each state’s audit and provides “exhaustive details” to its members on financial matters, she said.
The Massachusetts theft charges have come as a union scandal is still unfolding in the District of Columbia, where the American Federation of Teachers has taken over its troubled affiliate after charges that officials of the local union stole at least $5 million. (“Union Local Loses Control of Operations,” Jan. 29, 2003.)