Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ex-Nonprofit Leader On The Lam

The founder and former CEO of a Naperville, Ill.-based nonprofit has allegedly fled the country amid allegations he stole nearly $200,000 from the organization for a film company he founded.

Robert Geniesse founded Our Children's Homestead, a nonprofit foster-care and adoption agency, and was CEO until the board of directors fired him in March 2011, according to a report in The Daily Herald. He was fired under suspicion that he was embezzling from the organization, and a criminal investigation was soon launched.

Geniesse was formerly charged this month with funneling over $200,000 from the organization to his film company, Reverse Momentum Films. Four days before the charges were filed, however, he fled to Hamburg, Germany, according to the FBI. It was also alleged that his wife, who runs the film company along with her husband, went to Germany one month before the charges were issued. Howe is not charged with any wrongdoing in the case.

Along with using the funds for production of documentary films, Geniesse allegedly used the agency credit card for hotel rooms, rental cars, and other expenses during filming in Kenya and the Philippines. Reverse Momentum Films produced at least one picture in 2009, "I Am You," a documentary about poverty in the Philippines.

Despite the alleged theft, Our Children's Homestead remains in a good financial state. Kurt Freidenauer, who replaced Geniesse as CEO last year, told The Herald that the organization has been able to maintain its daily operations. He gave credit to the board for firing Geniesse before any more damage could be done.

Should he be located, the FBI will seek to expedite Geniesse back to Illinois, where, if convicted, he faces a $100,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

You can read the full story in The Daily Herald.

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