HIV agency uncovers ‘fraud scheme’ after former CFO charged with embezzling money from Planned Parenthood
Chicago House and Social Service Agency discovered it had been defrauded after its CFO, Andrea Peoples, was charged last month with stealing more than $100,000 from her former employer, Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
A local HIV services organization has launched a fundraising campaign to recover stolen money from “a complex fraud scheme” that was uncovered at the nonprofit after its former CFO was recently charged with embezzling money from her previous employer.
Chicago House and Social Service Agency reported the theft to Chicago police on Jan. 10 after learning that its ex-CFO Andrea Peoples was charged in January with stealing more than $100,000 from Planned Parenthood of Illinois, where she worked until April 2017.
Eric Wilkerson, chief development officer at Chicago House, would not comment on the amount of money stolen from the agency, but its board chairman Ryan Garrison told WBEZ it’s suspected to be a six-figure amount.
Wilkerson said after learning of Peoples’ arrest, Chicago House launched an internal investigation that found several employees allegedly committed fraud against the organization. Peoples was among several employees who were subsequently fired, Wilkerson said. No one has been charged yet in the alleged scheme at Chicago House, which provides housing, health and employment services to people who are vulnerable to HIV.
“At the end of the day, this puts our clients, staff and everybody at risk,” Wilkerson said of the financial impact from the alleged scheme that is still being investigated by authorities.
“We are in a tough spot right now, but we are a viable agency and will continue serving the populations most affected by HIV and AIDS.”
To recover from the loss, Chicago House launched a fundraising campaign on Jan. 28 to raise at least $500,000 by April 1. As of Feb. 11, the organization had already raised about 28% of that goal.
Peoples, 41, started working at Chicago House in August 2018, more than a year after she resigned from Planned Parenthood.
In a recent emailed statement, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson said a routine audit found that Peoples had allegedly embezzled money from the organization’s operating budget between July 2015 and April 2017.
“The conduct as alleged in the criminal complaint violates the mission and values of Planned Parenthood of Illinois,” the organization’s statement said. “We take our responsibility to the communities we serve very seriously and are committed to upholding the public’s trust.”
Howard Wise, Peoples’ attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.