Girishcha Patel stole more than $85,000.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: The treasurer of an Indian-American organization has been arrested on charges of embezzling funds from the organization for his own means.
Girishcha Patel, a 58 year-old resident of Franklin Township – located in Somerset County, in central New Jersey – was the treasurer of the Federation of Gujarati Associations in North America (FOGANA).
Patel was the organization’s treasurer from 2004-2012, and was the only person with access to FOGANA’s accounts during that time. Beginning in January 1, 2006 and lasting through March 31 of last year, he is said to have stolen $75,000, and continued to steal from FOGANA even after he vacated the position, bringing the total value of his thievery to $85,844.
It is as yet unclear exactly how Patel’s crimes first came to the attention of law enforcement agents, but they were able to track him and find evidence of his embezzlement via falsified bank statements and records, non-existent bank account numbers, as well as electronic correspondences between Patel and other unidentified people (presumably other FOGANA members) in which Patel expressed his desire to pay back the money he took as soon as he could.
Patel was subsequently arrested this past Monday, October 21. He was taken into custody “without incident” and is currently in Somerset County Jail, with cash-only bail set at $75,000. He has been charged with second-degree theft, and it is unknown what amount of jail time or monetary punishment Patel faces. It is also unknown what Patel’s citizenship status is, as theft is a crime that can lead to prolonging the obtainment of US citizenship, or even deportation in some cases.
FOGANA was founded in 1980 as “a common platform to sustain and perpetuate the cultural heritage of Gujarat, India.” It is meant to help bring Gujaratis together from all corners of the US.
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