Cheater of the Week Stole $163K in Late Book Fees
Business + Economy

Cheater of the Week Stole $163K in Late Book Fees


The poor economy may have been the reason – or the excuse – for one library employee of Yonkers, New York, to have robbed the city’s library system of more than $160,000, mostly in overdue book fines. Or maybe she did it “because she could.” 

Margo Reed, 54, has pled guilty to felony charges of grand larceny and filing false tax returns and yesterday was sentenced to six months in jail, followed by four-and-a-half years of probation. She will also need to repay the $163,582 she stole, according to The New York Times.   

Described by the business manager as a “trusted employee” of the library’s business office and “one of the most popular people at the library,” Reed pocketed a little bit of money at a time, skimming regularly off the top of the fees collected for overdue books – 10 cents for most books, and 50 cents for new seven-day book loans. Her routine, apparently, was to alter the collection paperwork to show less than what was collected in fees, while she pocketed the difference.

“The difference between what she received and what she reported was usually $100 or more,” according to Stephen Force, the Yonkers Library director, theTimes reported. 

Reed’s yearly salary was about $40,000 a year. The theft began in 2004 and continued for seven years. Perhaps the most brazen part of all was that she used correction fluid (White Out, anyone?) to rejigger the printed receipt that came her way. Then she entered a new amount on the paperwork she prepared for the city. 

The ongoing alterations were only discovered at the end of 2010, when a new business manager was hired by the library system and began to review the accounting procedures. Reed’s attorney, Lawrence Sykes, said his client was “remorseful” and hoped to make restitution.

It’s hardly the first time a library employee has been caught nickel and diming the system: Back in July 2003 a worker in Floral Park, New York, was accused of stealing more than $77,000 in library funds after making off with cash accumulated from video rentals and sales. But it’s just one more indication that where’s there a will there’s a way – and that chump change today can very quickly add up to grand larceny when no one’s looking.