Museum Is Official’s Personal Piggy Bank
MAY 22, 2007
The president of a struggling and publicly funded Philadelphia museum embezzled more than $1.5 million for his personal use, including home improvements, jewelry, fancy electronics and clothes.
Federal authorities say that, as president of the Independence Seaport Museum in Penn’s Landing, John Carter defrauded the public of the money by creating phony invoices and charging expensive personal items to the museum which is located along the Delaware River waterfront.
The fraud includes charging $335,000 for the construction of a carriage house at his Cape Cod home, $50,000 worth of electronic equipment and an $8,000 European vacation. Carter also stole a rare boat that had been donated to the museum then had the museum pay to refurbish the vessel. He later sold the refurbished boat for $190,000, which he kept.
Additionally, Carter used about $50,000 of museum funds to buy a rare 1860 American Paddle Box carved wooden eagle and a 19th century Narwhal tusk for himself. Federal prosecutors say he used the museum’s funds as his personal piggy bank and went to extraordinary lengths to conceal his fraudulent activities.
This is not the first time that a public official defrauds the Seaport Museum, which owns the Spanish-American War cruiser USS Olympia and the World War II-era submarine Becuna. Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Fumo was charged earlier this year with defrauding the museum of more than $100,000 in luxury yacht trips for himself, family and friends. Fumo sat on the museum’s board of directors and had easy access to the funds.
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