The ex-boss of a leading abortion rights group pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing $75,000 from the organization – using donor money to pay her high-flying lifestyle.
Report: NARAL leader to plead guilty to felony for fleecing New York affiliate
by Peter J. Smith Wed Jun 22, 2011 14:31 EST
NEW YORK, June 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Kelli Conlin, former head of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, will plead guilty to felony charges of falsifying documents to cover up a major financial scandal, according to sources with YNN.
YNN’s Capital Tonight program revealed that sources have informed them that Conlin has cut a deal with the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who launched a criminal investigation against Conlin.
Conlin will plead guilty to Class E felony, and make restitution to NARAL Pro-Choice New York for all the money she fleeced from the abortion advocacy group.
Capital Tonight reports that their sources say she will serve no jail time, just probation, as part of the deal.
Back in February, Capital Tonight reported that they had obtained an exclusive copy of a forensic audit conducted for NARAL Pro Choice New York that showed Conlin had appropriated hundreds of thousands of the organization’s dollars – since at least 2008 – to fund a lavish personal lifestyle.
That audit shows Conlin used NARAL’s credit cards to purchase over $5000 in clothing from retailers like Giorgio Armani, a $17,000 summer rental in the Hamptons in 2009, and $22,000 in meals. The purchases on the company dime also included a $100,000 car service to drop off her children at school in Manhattan’s posh Upper West Side.
Sources to YNN said Conlin was fired after the revelation.
Capital Tonight also reported that Conlin’s paycheck from NARAL totaled $309,000 for 2009 – out of an annual budget of $4.5 million. They also reported that the audit shows that a number of large transactions of money that moved around NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s accounts appear dubious, and may hide other financial improprieties.
Pro-life advocate Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, jumped on Conlin’s apparent embezzlement, when the story broke, saying the incident was evidence of the corruption of abortion advocacy groups.
Conlin was a fixture at NARAL Pro-Choice New York, having led that chapter as president since 1992. Her sudden unexplained departure in January 2011 raised questions about the reasons for her leaving.
Capital Tonight adds that the New York Attorney General’s office may press civil charges against Conlin. It reports that the early resolution of the case allows NARAL’s New York chapter to avoid a messy public trial, and recover themselves as a political force in New York elections in time for 2012.
Read Capital Tonight’s full report http://www.capitaltonight.com/2011/06/sources-ex-naral-president-pleading-guilty-to-felony/
Kelli Conlin, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health and NARAL Pro-Choice New York, speaking at the 2010 Champions of Choice Award Luncheon on April 26.
And here’s and old story about another NARAL staffer: Ex Wisconsin NARAL (Pro-abortion) advocate accused of stealing-2nd time ?
From the blog: Political Capital
KATY HERINGLAKE, who once had a no-show job working in the state Capitol for state Sen. Jeff Plale, D-Milwaukee, is back in the news.
A former aide to then-Sen. Brian Burke, she, reportedly, was “convicted of swiping $13,000 from National Abortion Rights Action League of Wisconsin,” Where she used to work.
Now Katy Venskus, she lobbies for AT&T Wisconsin and Education Reform Now.
Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard reportedly is charging Venskus, 34, of Oconomowoc, with two felonies for allegedly using her lobbying company’s credit card on more than $15,000 in personal expenses.
The complaint against Venskus, which was reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, says “she purchased $369 worth of steak from Badger Wholesale Foods for her family with an American Express card owned by Minneapolis-based Public Affairs Co., for which she had worked since January 2008. Venskus left the firm last year.”
Her lawyer, Stephen Meyer, reportedly told the Wisconsin State Journal, that the complaint contained “only allegations” and that the full story had not come out. She is quoted in the complaint as saying, “I’ve reimbursed everything, I’ve paid back all charges, and I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Katy Heringlake was caught up in the caucus scandal as a staffer to then-Sen. Brian Burke and was convicted of swiping $13,000 from National Abortion Rights Action League of Wisconsin, for which she used to work.
A few years later, she re-emerged as Katy Venskus and landed jobs as a campaign manager, a legislative aide and eventually a Capitol lobbyist.
But her life is taking a familiar turn.
Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard is charging Venskus, 34, of Oconomowoc, with two felonies for allegedly using her lobbying company’s credit card on more than $15,000 in personal expenses.
For instance, the complaint says, Venskus purchased $369 worth of steak from Badger Wholesale Foods for her family with an American Express card owned by Minneapolis-based Public Affairs Co., for which she had worked since January 2008. Venskus left the firm last year.
Her lawyer, Stephen Meyer, was not available for comment Wednesday. He told the Wisconsin State Journal, however, that the complaint contained “only allegations” and that the full story had not come out. She is quoted in the complaint as saying, “I’ve reimbursed everything, I’ve paid back all charges, and I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Venskus currently lobbies for AT&T Wisconsin and Education Reform Now, which advocates for a mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools. The group is headed by former Journal Sentinel education reporter Joe Williams.
From the Milwaukee Express: (Click Title to read and see links)
MPS Takeover Lobbyist Katy Venskus Charged with Felony Theft and Identity Theft
Posted at 11:05 AM
In Section: Daily Dose Posted By: Lisa Kaiser
The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Katy Venskus, lobbyist/state director for the MPS takeover groups Education Reform Now (ERN) and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), as well as a lobbyist for AT&T, has been charged with felony theft and identity theft.
Seems that she’s suspected of using the credit cards of her former employer, the lobbying firm Public Affairs Company, for $15,473 in unauthorized purchases—including a freezer full of steaks, allegedly.
Her lawyer says these are only allegations and everything can be explained.
This isn’t Venskus’ first run-in with the law.
In 2002 she pleaded no contest to forgery for stealing $13,000 from a different employer, NARAL of Wisconsin. That, too, was a felony.
After that conviction, Venskus worked for Sen. Brian Burke during his fundraising scandal, then raised money for Sen. Jeff Plale’s campaign and was later hired as his capitol staffer, then branched out into lobbying, first with Public Affairs Company, then on her own.
I interviewed Venskus for an article I wrote about ERN/DFER’s connections to Wall Street hedge fund managers. I’d heard rumors about her conviction, but didn’t think it was truly relevant to the story. You know, people can be rehabilitated. Felons can become lobbyists under the law. So I didn’t print anything about her conviction and focused on her present role as a takeover advocate. I added some additional information on my blog—how she hadn’t registered as a lobbyist on the takeover bill until I pointed it out to her, her dismissive attitude toward voters, her attempt to portray herself as a director of a grassroots group when she’s really a paid lobbyist.
Later, I got phone calls and emails from readers who knew about her criminal past and were upset that she had such a prominent role in the takeover debate. Looks like they had reason to be upset.
One other irony—despite being a felon, Venskus can affect public policy at the highest levels as a registered lobbyist. Yet she couldn’t be licensed to become a day care provider. Hmmm…