Ballet School Worker Stole $800,000 to Fund Gambling Addiction

  • Sophia Kim was the comptroller for the Kirov Academy in Washington, D.C.
  • She stole funds for her gambling through the school's credit cards, debit cards, and checks
  • Kim allegedly used company credit cards while at the MGM National Harbor Casino
  • A previous embezzlement conviction saw her serve two years in federal prison
woman working out accounts using a calculator
A gambling addict employed as a comptroller at the Kirov Academy in Washington, D.C. embezzled close to $800,000 to feed her habit. [Image:]

Comptroller took money from Kirov Academy

A woman who was looking after the finances and accounts of a leading ballet school in Washington, D.C. stole almost $800,000 to fund her gambling addiction.

Sophia Kim (Sookyeong Kim Sebold) allegedly defrauded the Kirov Academy, founded by Reverend Sun Myung Moon in 1990, by using her position as the school’s comptroller.

According to an FBI affidavit, Kim stole money due to “a gambling addiction and other financial problems.”

How the funds were stolen

Kim admitted her use of school credit and debit cards to steal money. She also made cash withdrawals from the company’s BB&T bank account. 

She also wrote 68 unauthorized checks to herself or for “cash”, the value of which ranged between $500 and $12,000. The checks only contained Kim’s signature and did not have supporting documentation. The total sum stolen in this manner was $377,200.

68 unauthorized checks to herself or for “cash”, the value of which ranged between $500 and $12,000

One of the locations where Kim would use the company credit cards was the MGM National Harbor Casino, situated just outside of Washington, D.C.

Fraudster’s criminal record

This is not the first time that Kim has been in trouble over similar issues. In 2013, she got a federal jury conviction in Virginia for embezzling money from the Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation. She also had not properly reported her income when filing income tax returns. 

Kim spent 24 months in federal prison as a result of this conviction. At the time of the case, there was also talk of Kim dealing with an addiction to gambling.

Kim had been working for the Kirov Academy since 2017. There is no indication as to whether the ballet school’s authorities knew about her prior conviction when they initially hired her.

A common occurrence worldwide

Similar incidents of gambling addicts stealing from employers and family members to feed their habit are reported to happen worldwide.

According to a VSO News report earlier this month, a 53-year-old bookkeeper for a luxury cruise company in Australia stole $2.55m from her employer for gambling purposes over the course of six years. This week, 32Red paid back almost £600,00 ($775,000) to a firm in Belfast, Northern Ireland after an employee stole company funds to gamble on the site. 

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