A former Girl Scout employee accused of embezzling $370,000 from the organization has pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering.
Marina Del Rey resident Channing Smack was arrested Dec. 17 after the Girl Scouts discovered business irregularities and contacted the FBI. He was a senior property manager of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles and was responsible for managing 22 Girl Scouts’ properties in the Los Angeles area.
"We were outraged that a trusted member of our staff would violate the fundamental values we teach our girls every day," GSGLA Chief External Relations Officer Carol Dedrich said.
Smack had approved invoices for services purportedly provided by a firm called ZB Land Maintenance & Engineering, which was registered under the name of Smack’s dead brother. Between August 2012 and October 2013, Girls Scouts issued 23 checks to ZB that totaled $368,278.
Sentencing has been set for May 27. Money laundering is a federal offense that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, the United States Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
According to the plea deal, Smack will pay $370,000 to the GSGLA in restitution, of which $250,000 has been recovered, a statement by GSGLA said.
"Today’s outcome is an example for our girls that we do not tolerate criminal behavior and that when under difficult circumstances, we can overcome challenges by banding together and standing up against those that take advantage of us and others," Dedrich said. "We appreciate the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the speed and efficiency with which this matter was managed and completed."
The GSGLA serves more than 40,000 girls in LA County, as well as parts of Kern, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties.
"This situation is a great teaching moment and a great example of why developing strong values and ethics in our youth, a cornerstone of Girl Scouting, is critical to building a stronger society," Dedrich said.