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Published: Tuesday, 3/6/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

$8 million Ohio charity embezzler is freed

ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLUMBUS — A former chief administrative officer imprisoned for stealing nearly $8 million from the American Cancer Society of Ohio more than a decade ago has been released and is on house arrest.

Daniel Wiant fled to Europe in 2000 after wiring $6.9 million in stolen funds from the organization to a bank account in Austria.

He was brought back to face charges after he called his wife to tell her what he had done and she called police.

Wiant, now 47, pleaded guilty to four embezzlement-related charges. He was sentenced in 2001 to 13½ years in prison, but the sentence was shortened for good behavior.

Authorities say he has been on house arrest since Feb. 1 and will begin five years of probation after the house arrest ends March 26.

A Dec. 31 posting on Wiant’s Facebook page said that he would “start my new job Tuesday a fresh beginning for a new year,” the Columbus Dispatch reported.

Wiant worked for the cancer society for six years before he was charged with stealing $6.9 million, money that later was returned to the charity.

The FBI said he’d been stealing money from the organization for three years before that. He had taken about $1 million that he used for such things as adding pear trees to his yard, buying all-terrain vehicles, and renting an apartment for a co-worker, authorities said.

Before the society hired Wiant, he had been convicted of credit card theft in the 1980s and the theft of $21,000 from a Hawaii food bank in the 1990s and had faked education and job credentials to get hired, according to the Dispatch.

“He was a criminal — pathological, by all accounts,” said Greg Donaldson, a spokesman for the American Cancer Society in Atlanta.

He said that what Wiant did “was a reminder that charities can be victimized and we have to be vigilant.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Washington said Wiant went to a prison in McKean, Pa., and then was transferred to Elkton, south of Youngstown in eastern Ohio. From Nov. 1 to Feb. 1, he was in a halfway house in the Atlanta area.



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