Stealing from Goodwill: Ex-VP Embezzles over $1 Million
It was just like any other Wednesday morning in June 2010, when Director of the Division of Employment Security (DES), Gracia Backer, arrived at work. Little did she know that this particular day would be anything but average. Things started heating up when Backer received information from a caller, who indicated she had been in contact with DES Benefit Representative, Kevin Adams. Confusion and suspicion arose immediately considering there is no position in the DES titled, “Benefit Representative,” and more importantly, there was no DES staff member named Kevin Adams.
Kevin Adams was the pseudonym that former Goodwill Executive, Ronald Partee, was using while impersonating a member of the DES. The DES’s recognition that someone was impersonating a staff member was only the tip of the iceberg for an investigation that uncovered how deep Partee’s scams actually went. Over the course of three years, Partee embezzled more than $1 million from MERS/Goodwill by using fraudulent bills, invoices, and letters sent to Goodwill, with which he fooled members of the company’s accounts payable department into drafting checks.
While stealing from Goodwill, an establishment working to help those in need obtain work and provide affordable necessities, Partee led what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch deemed as a, “lavish lifestyle”. According to the Post, he used the stolen money to purchase expensive vehicles, fund his traveling, and attend several sporting and concert events.
After realizing that someone was impersonating a DES employee, Backer contacted the Department Director, Larry Rebman. Director Rebman quickly notified the Department of Public Safety about the scam as well as released a video statement to warn the public. The matter then was assigned to the Missouri Highway Patrol, and in January 2011, Partee pled guilty to one count of felony embezzlement and another of money laundering. This year in May, Partee was sentenced to 70 months (nearly six years) in prison.