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Woman arrested in Redlands museum embezzlement

May 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The money to operate an historic museum in Redlands has vanished after an alleged embezzlement by an employee.

For more than seven decades, the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands has educated the community on the life of our nation's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.

But the funding for the museum's programs is in jeopardy after $30,000 disappeared from two bank accounts.

"I am devoted to this place and I know that we've had all these budget cuts and had to let people go, and so to have something like this happen at this time seems like such a betrayal," said Redlands resident Kate Pretorious.

On Friday, police arrested former library administrative assistant Misti Moore for allegedly embezzling the money. A week earlier, Moore had been laid off due to cutbacks.

"I understand from speaking to the arresting officer she started taking small amounts at that time to cover some gambling debts," said Don McCue, curator of the Lincoln Memorial Shrine.

McCue was the first to notice the irregularities after taking over Moore's duties. An investigation revealed for two years Moore allegedly made several checks out to herself.

"She had taken great pains to electronically alter the records that came back from the bank to make it appear that those checks were being written to legitimate businesses," said Carl Baker, a city of Redlands spokesman.

The museum, which houses a Lincoln and Civil War collection, was left with just $2.50 -- far less than what is in its donation box.

One wing of the museum was built in the 1990s with money from donors. It now houses the museum's famous Norman Rockwell painting.

"It's obviously an affront to the donors and people who've placed their trust in this institution, but it's also a personal blow to me, having worked very closely with this woman. 'Treachery' is the word I use to describe it," said McCue.

The non-profit organization has put new procedures in place to prevent this from happening again.

In the meantime, the museum needs to generate new funding with fewer operating hours and resources.

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