A Massachusetts grand jury has indicted the former accountant of a Jewish student organization at Harvard University, alleging that he stole approximately $780,000 from the group over a five-year period.
According to a statement released by the Massachusetts' Attorney General's Office, William O'Brien, 58, defrauded Harvard Hillel from 2003 to 2008, when he worked there as a contracted accountant.
O'Brien is said to have diverted the funds to an account under his own name and to have used them for personal expenses, which reportedly included private trips and tickets to sporting events.
Melissa Monahan, a spokesman for Harvard Hillel, told The Jerusalem Post that, "In early 2008, Harvard Hillel discovered reporting irregularities that did not adhere to the organization's protocol for financial transactions. It was determined that William O'Brien, an employee of Insource Services, Inc., had stolen significant sums of money through fraud."
"Upon discovery of the fraud," Monahan said, "Hillel terminated Insource, contacted the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office and began working with them during their criminal investigation of Mr. O'Brien."
She added that in the wake of the fraud, Harvard Hillel had hired a team of financial experts to review the organization's financial operations with the aim of tightening internal controls and oversight in order to "prevent similar situations from occurring in the future."