Federal authorities have charged a former executive of one of the nation’s largest Black fraternities with embezzling nearly $3 million — money they say he stole to support a gambling habit.
Curtis D. Anderson, 58, of Claymont, Del., had been employed for more than two decades as the finance director for Kappa Alpha Psi, which has its international headquarters on North Broad Street in Philadelphia.
He was fired in December 2018, after fraternity officials discovered the missing money and confronted him about his alleged theft. Anderson then confessed, according to court filings in the case, telling his bosses he was struggling with gambling and drinking addictions and had spent most of the funds at Harrah’s Casino.
Attempts to reach Anderson on his cell phone Thursday were unsuccessful. His attorney, Brian J. Zeiger, said he was unaware that Anderson had admitted to anyone that he had stolen the funds.
“I’m not disputing it per se, but the government has not told me that,” he said. Though, he added: “We have voluntarily participated in the investigation.”
Federal prosecutors did not specifically name Kappa Alpha Psi in an indictment filed Wednesday, describing it instead as a “civic and social organization.” However, the organization’s role as the victim came to light last year when U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigators applied for a warrant to search Anderson’s former office.
Prosecutors said Anderson began pilfering from the fraternity’s funds in June 2012 through checks he either made out to himself or other individuals whose signatures he forged while exchanging them for cash. Santander Bank flagged the unusual transactions and alerted the fraternity in 2018.
When Kappa Alpha Psi’s executive director John Burrell and its then-president Thomas Battles went to the bank two days later to discuss the missing funds, they spotted Anderson ducking out of the branch, called him on his cell phone, and asked him to return.
Anderson immediately acknowledged he had taken the money, court filings say.
Burrell did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. But in a statement last year, the fraternity director said Kappa Alpha Psi was cooperating with the federal investigation and “an employee” had been fired after the discovery of financial “irregularities.”
Burrell also said at the time that the fraternity was conducting an internal review of its financial operations to prevent similar situations in the future.
Anderson faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the most serious of the counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft with which he was charged Wednesday.
“Embezzlement is theft, that’s the bottom line,” said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain in a statement. “Anderson held a senior position of trust with his employer, and allegedly used that access to steal the identities of his colleagues and millions of dollars. My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect innocent organizations from being victimized by this type of fraud.”