Embezzlement | Oregon newspaper lays off entire workforce after employee fraud

Oregon newspaper lays off entire workforce after employee fraud

An Oregon-based newspaper shut down its operations and laid off its entire workforce after a former finance employee embezzled tens of thousands of dollars.

The Eugene Weekly, a publication based in the state of Oregon, swiftly closed its doors, announcing it would cease printing its weekly newspaper due to financial issues that left the company in “shambles” after a former worker stole funds.

The newspaper, a free publication founded in 1982, printed 30,000 copies every week for readers in the city of Oregon.

The publication revealed that the former employee, closely involved with the company’s finances, had paid themselves $90,000 since 2022. Additionally, the newspaper had over $100,000 in unpaid bills, according to the Associated Press.

The crime reportedly came to light when the employee in question was absent, leading to questions about closing financial records for the year. This revealed the embezzlement.

Consequently, the newspaper laid off its ten staff members, closing its doors and halting publishing for the first time in 20 years.

In a letter to its readers, the publication’s leaders explained: “The damage is more than most small businesses can bear. The scale of this moment is unlike anything we have ever faced. But we believe in this newspaper’s mission, and we remain determined to keep EW alive.”

The Eugene Weekly further stated that some staff members would continue to publish the paper online until restoring the business to its original state became possible.

A spokesperson for the Eugene Police Department reported that the police were investigating a former employee who had worked at the publication for at least five years but could not yet be identified.

Checks and Balances

In such a small firm, a significant amount of trust is placed in employees, especially those handling the company’s finances. Consequently, employers are best positioned to avoid the potentially catastrophic consequences of employee-related embezzlement.

On their website, Witan Solicitors outlines what businesses can do to prevent this: “A system of effective checks and balances, including equipment monitoring, regular bookkeeping, surprise stock audits, and robust cybersecurity measures, can limit the opportunities for any potential thief to steal from the business.

“Surveillance, when used legitimately and within the confines of the law, is one of the best security measures to ensure that employees are not stealing from the business.

“A robust employee theft and/or misconduct policy can also act as a deterrent, especially if staff are aware that you will adopt a no-tolerance policy towards workplace theft.”



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