United States District Court, District of Columbia
P. MEHTA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is Plaintiff Congressional Hunger Center's
Motion for Default Judgment against its former employee,
Defendant Mohamed H. Gurey. Plaintiff brought this suit after
discovering what it alleges was Defendant's years-long
embezzlement scheme. Defendant was properly served but failed
to respond to Plaintiff's three-count complaint. In
response, Plaintiff obtained an entry of default and filed
this Motion for Default Judgment, seeking damages in the
amount of $1, 202, 334.00. See Clerk's Entry of
Default as to Mohamed H. Gurey, Dec. 8, 2017; Mot. for
Default J., ECF No. 10. The court now enters judgment in
favor of Plaintiff.
Mohamed H. Gurey worked for Plaintiff Congressional Hunger
Center for 15 years, most recently as Plaintiff's
Director of Finance. Compl. ¶ 4. His job duties included
preparing Plaintiff's financial statements, monitoring
payroll, preparing records for Plaintiff's annual audits,
and overseeing Plaintiff's cash disbursements.
Id. ¶¶ 15-16. In addition, Defendant gave
information to Plaintiff's executive director about the
organization's finances, which, in turn, were used by
Plaintiff's Board of Directors. Id. ¶ 17.
an organizational restructuring in 2012, Plaintiff's
executive director was responsible for supervising Defendant.
See id. ¶¶ 18-19. Beginning in September
2015, that position was held by Shannon Maynard. Id.
¶ 19. Soon after the start of her tenure, Maynard
slimmed the organization's budget, including by
eliminating the position of Payroll & Benefits
Coordinator and outsourcing financial duties to an outside
vendor. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. Defendant
“vocally opposed” the outsourcing of
Plaintiff's payroll operations and offered to perform
those tasks himself. See id. ¶ 22. Maynard
agreed to assign these tasks to Plaintiff. Id.
took leave from work from June 2016 to September 2016, during
which time Defendant was supervised by Plaintiff's Chief
Operating Officer, Kristin Anderson. Id. ¶ 23.
When Maynard returned, she noticed problems with
Defendant's work, including that he was failing to meet
deadlines and had multiple, unexplained absences.
Id. ¶ 24. When she met with Defendant on
November 2, 2016, to discuss the organization's upcoming
audit, Defendant told Maynard that he had not yet completed
the necessary reports. Id. ¶ 26. After learning
this, Maynard pushed back the audit to the second week of
December. Id. ¶ 27.
same meeting, Defendant asked Maynard for 17 days of paid
time off during the month of November-time off, he said, that
he needed in order to complete courses that would allow him
to maintain his Certified Public Accountant license.
Id. ¶ 26. Maynard refused his request,
explaining that the time off was too close to the audit and
because Defendant had not given advance notice. See
id. ¶ 28. Undeterred, Defendant called the
Treasurer of the Board of Directors, Wolfgang von Maack, and
asked permission to take leave. Id. ¶ 29.
Plaintiff did not receive approval for his request.
week after Maynard's meeting with Defendant, on November
10, 2016, she met with Defendant for his annual performance
review, in which she gave Defendant a critical evaluation.
Id. ¶ 30. In the review, Maynard identified as
areas of improvement the timeliness of Defendant's
quarterly and monthly financial reports. Id. On
November 14, 2016, Maynard gave Defendant a “Warning
and Performance Improvement Plan, ” which reflected
those deficiencies and contained a list of key tasks to be
performed. Id. ¶ 31.
failed to show up for work on December 7, 2016. Id.
¶ 32. Later that day, Maynard found in her company
mailbox a letter from Defendant in which he
“requested” vacation time from December 7 to
December 15. Id. ¶ 33. In the letter, Defendant
said he planned to return on December 16 to assist with the
audit. Id. Maynard decided to fire Defendant for
taking leave without permission. Id. ¶ 34.
discovered Defendant's theft of organization funds when
cutting off Defendant's access to its bank accounts.
See id. ¶ 36. When Maynard logged into the
accounts to deactivate Defendant, she discovered that the
balances were “dramatically lower” than that
reported on a financial statement Defendant had prepared.
Id. Per Defendant's report to Maynard,
Plaintiff, as of November 23, 2016, had $715, 252 on hand.
Id. In actuality, the accounts contained only $137,
526-not even enough money to cover the organization's
expenses for December. Id.
discovery spurred a review of Plaintiff's financial
records. When reviewing the organization's transactions
in 2015 and 2016, Maynard discovered “a number of
suspicious checks, ” made out to Defendant, of amounts
of more than $1, 000. Id. ¶ 37. At the time,
the Plaintiff's accounting policies required that any
check for more than $1, 000 be signed by two members of the
organization, either Anderson and Defendant or Anderson and
Maynard. Id. ¶ 38. The checks to Defendant all
bore Defendant's signature and Anderson's signature.
Id. ¶ 39. Anderson's signature, however,
was determined to be forged. Id. The checks were
dated on days when Anderson was on leave, and Anderson
confirmed that she had not signed them. Id.
¶¶ 40- 41. In an investigation that followed,
Plaintiff discovered Defendant had been writing unauthorized
checks to himself since 2010 by forging the signature of
other organization signatories. Id. ¶ 46.
Plaintiff's investigation revealed that Defendant had
stolen more than $1, 100, 000 from the organization.
Id. In addition to forging checks, Defendant also
had made repeated withdrawals of organization funds at a
Maryland casino, using his company debit card. See
id. ¶¶ 42-43. To cover his tracks, Defendant
falsified entries in documents and failed to record
transactions. See id. ¶¶ 54, 56.
Defendant's theft also jeopardized Plaintiff's
financial standing with lenders. The organization was unable
to repay a line of credit it had previously opened by the
maturity date of February 1, 2017. Id. ¶ 49-53.
To avoid default, Defendant had to renegotiate the terms of
the line of credit, resulting in additional costs to
Plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 48-53.