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Accountant accused of writing herself 199 checks

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The children's shelter accountant accused of embezzlement reportedly wrote herself 199 checks, according to a grand jury indictment passed down Wednesday.

Calene Dunn, 56, allegedly started stealing from Rainbow House in August 2002. According to prosecutors, she wrote herself a check for $1,541.97 and then, 13 days later, took another $2,129.17 from the non-profit shelter.

The indictment outlines 197 more thefts, occurring between the end of Summer in 2002 until a week before Christmas in 2006 and reportedly tallying up to more than $400,000. Dunn worked at Rainbow House from 2001 until 2007, when the thefts were reported by a new executive director.

Rainbow House gives shelter to abused and neglected children in need of emergency care. Shelter officials say they have served more than six million meals and provided shelter for more than 6,500 children over 20 years.

The organization operates on government funding, as well as donations. Rainbow House officials reported a financial crisis, following the discovery of the thefts, but vowed to rebuild trust and continue to provide food and clothing for the children.

Clayton County District Attorney Jewel Scott estimated the amount taken.

According to Rainbow House Executive Director Greg Sterchi, the former director used a stamp to sign checks, and Dunn had the stamp. The practice has since been discontinued.

Sterchi said the organization also has added insurance against such theft, a protection Dunn had previously decided to decline, reportedly on account of cost.

Dunn allegedly took about $2,000 with every theft, writing checks about every two weeks.

During one period, the indictment accuses Dunn of embezzling more than $10,000 the month before Christmas in 2003, and stealing $3,582.67 with one check in March 2006.

The indictment further alleges Dunn, "through a pattern of racketeering activity, did directly acquire and maintain control of certain personal property, to wit: money."

She is being prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, instead of 199 counts of felony theft by taking, a move Scott said increases the possible maximum sentence.

Dunn's arraignment is set for May 7.

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On the web: Donations can be made to Rainbow House at www.rainbowhouseinc.org.