Curtis D. Anderson, who over 30 years worked his way up from bookkeeper to director of finances at Kappa Alpha Psi, one of the nation’s largest and most influential Black college fraternities, pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing nearly $3 million from the organization.
Anderson, 59 of Claymont, Del., said little during the hearing before U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Savage, but he previously told investigators he stole the money to fund a gambling habit at a time when he was struggling with alcohol addiction.
Attempts to reach Kappa Alpha Psi officials, whose international headquarters building is on North Broad Street in Philadelphia, were not successful Tuesday. Founded in 1911, the fraternity has more than 125,000 members with 700 undergraduate and alumni chapters in nearly every state in the nation and international chapters in Nigeria, South Africa, the West Indies, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, and Japan.
Prosecutors said Anderson began stealing from the fraternity in June 2012 using checks he either made out to himself or others whose signatures he forged and exchanging them for cash. Santander Bank flagged the unusual transactions and alerted the fraternity in 2018.
In all, Anderson cashed 78 fraudulent checks at Santander Bank and 40 at Wells Fargo Bank, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Crawley told the judge.
Anderson was fired in December 2018 after fraternity officials discovered the missing money and confronted him. Anderson then confessed, telling his bosses he was struggling with gambling and drinking addictions and had spent most of the funds at Harrah’s Casino.
He was formally charged in October 2020.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Anderson pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Savage set sentencing for Feb. 22 and allowed Anderson to remain free until then. While he would be given credit for taking responsibility for his actions and helping the Justice Department with its investigation of him, the judge warned Anderson that there was no guarantee on the sentence he would impose. The judge noted that the maximum sentence could be as high as 82 years in prison and a fine of more than $1 million.
Federal sentencing guidelines call for a term of between five to six years in prison, Crawley said after the hearing.
“He stole nearly $3 million from his former employer that had placed him in a position of trust as the director of finance,” she said. “It was a long-standing fraud scheme to embezzle from his employer over a period of many years. He reaped the benefit of that.”
Anderson’s lawyer, Brian J. Zeiger, said Anderson is in treatment for his gambling and drinking addictions. “He’s a really nice guy,” he said. “It’s really a shame.”