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Former ABA Employee Busted in $1.3 M Cellphone Theft

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 23, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The ABA Journal published a story it really didn't want to publish.

It was about a former employee who is charged with stealing nearly $1.3 million from the American Bar Association, which publishes the Journal. According to the report, Karen M. Healy ordered 1,715 cellphones and 10 iPads and charged it to the ABA.

Everybody is innocent until proven guilty in America, but the case raises another question: How many cell phones does it take to get an attorney's attention?

1,715 Cell Phones

Healy, 48, was the finance administrator for the ABA's information services department for 14 years. She bought most of the information technology products for the association.

According to court records, she started buying cellphones with ABA money for herself years ago. Healy ordered them from ABA vendors, but altered records to say they were other products.

She had them delivered to her office, telling supervisors she had personal items mailed to work rather than home because "any items left on her doorstep were subject to a high risk of theft."

The scheme went on for eight years. The thefts were initially small, said ABA Executive Director Jack Rives, but they increased significantly last year.

Taxes and Insurance

Rives said the ABA made an insurance claim, and expects to recover most of its money. The ABA, which is grappling with a decline in membership and dues, also reported the loss for tax purposes.

Healy is due in court on September 5, but it begs another question: Where is she going to find a lawyer?

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