Bloomington woman sentenced for embezzling nearly $200,000

Monday, June 29, 2015

A 61-year-old Bloomington woman was sentenced to 27 months in prison for embezzling about $200,000 from the Richfield American Legion, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Joy Aliya Delong pleaded guilty in April to seven counts of theft by swindle. Besides the prison sentence, prosecutors will be asking for her to pay restitution in an amount to be determined at a restitution hearing.

At the sentencing Thursday, three members of the Richfield American Legion Post 435 gave victim impact statements. They noted that the post was greatly affected by Delong’s action. The post had to lay off 11 employees when its gambling license was revoked for a year because of Delong’s thefts. The post was also unable to contribute to programs for veterans in need, including blood and brain research and post-traumatic stress disorders. In the past, the post had donated gambling profits to the Richfield Police, Veteran’s Memorial Park, the Boy Scouts, baseball teams and many other organizations.

“There are hundreds of people that would have benefited from the money that was stolen had we been able to provide it,” said Craig A. Deneen in his victim impact statement, given on behalf of the Post Executive Board and Membership.

According to the criminal complaint, Delong was a bookkeeper at the post for more than 10 years. Two years ago, the Minnesota Gambling Control Board started an investigation and requested that Delong provide financial records and documents for American Legion Post 435.  Delong did not respond to repeated requests for copies of financial records.

Five months later, Delong finally provided some of the financial documents, but the bank statements had been altered or were missing pages. Eventually, investigators received documents directly from the bank and they revealed that several thousands of dollars from the post’s gambling and lottery accounts had been used to make credit card and cell phone payments that did not belong to the post, but belonged to Delong.

From January 2009 – September 2013, Delong used her position as bookkeeper to embezzle nearly $200,000 from the post by accessing financial accounts to pay personal expenses and manipulating payroll to pad her pay and reimbursements.

Criminal complaint (PDF)