Feds probing fraud charge in Michigan AARP
The U.S. postal inspector is investigating the possible embezzlement
of almost $46,000 in the Michigan headquarters of the AARP.
Bill Knox, a spokesman for the state office, which is in downtown Lansing,
said the embezzlement involved fraud and was discovered in February
2001. A former employee is suspected of issuing phony invoices from
a company the employee was connected with and mailing them to the national
office to be paid. The employee quit about the same time irregularities
were discovered. The spokesman said the resignation was not related
to the irregularities.
A spokesman for the postal inspectors branch office in Detroit
confirmed the investigation and declined to comment because it is still
A spokesman for AARP in Washington, Marty Davis, said an employee in
the Lansing office reported it to AARPs Chicago regional office
in February 2001. Sources said the employee in the Lansing office was
a whistleblower who acted independently of supervisors.
The Chicago office investigated the matter for several months before
reporting on it to AARPs board, which turned it over to the post
Asked why AARP members in Michigan were not informed of the situation,
Knox said, Frankly, since none of the money came from this office,
nor did it harm any of the 1.5 million members of Michigan, we didnt
think it was worth even a press release.
AARP is the nations largest organization for seniors. More than
35 million members pay annual dues of $12 each to the nonprofit organization.
The AARP provides consumer information to members and lobbies on their
Sources said employees in the state office discovered the possible fraud
when they noticed a large number of invoices coming into the office.
A former AARP volunteer in the Michigan office complained in a letter
to the national headquarters in March 2002 about how long it was taking
to resolve the embezzlement case.
The volunteer, John Willson of Lansing, also said in the letter to AARP
executive director William Novelli: Why was the perpetrator not
prosecuted? Was this in the best interest of the organization?
Willson said he notified the Lansing Police Department in May 2002 of
the possible fraud, but a detective in the departments consumer
fraud division said the department deferred it to the post office.