Legion of Tech falls victim to embezzlement

Portland-based Legion of Tech—the organization formed to manage events like Ignite Portland and BarCamp Portland—has revealed that a member of the organization has misappropriated the Legion of Tech credit line for personal use.

To be blunt, this sucks. I can’t tell you how much I didn’t want to write this. But it’s news that affects the Portland tech community, and as such, I felt an obligation to cover it. Long story short, you deserve to know.

Deep breath. Here it is:

Portland-based Legion of Tech—the organization formed to help manage events like Ignite Portland and BarCamp Portland—has revealed that a member of the organization has misappropriated the Legion of Tech credit line for personal use.

Shock doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction.

A few hours ago, I sat down with two board members of the Legion of Tech. They detailed the entire scenario for me. I’ve still got a knot in the pit of my stomach.

I regret to inform you that the Legion of Tech Board of Directors (”Board”) recently discovered that a previous board member had taken money from the organization.  That person spent thousands of dollars on personal expenses using a credit card that the Board was unaware carried a balance.  That card was connected to a bank account that the former director was to have closed months ago.  The account remained open and the former director wrote personal checks from the money in the account–money that was to have been transferred to the new bank account upon its close.[HTML1]

Upon learning of this fraud, the Board acted swiftly to hold an emergency board meeting.  Actions were taken to freeze both accounts and the individual was removed from the Board.

The LoT has retained legal counsel to help them determine next steps in the proceedings.

How could something like this happen? Fact of the matter is that the organization was prone to this this type of activity due to admittedly lackadaisical accounting practices. Obviously, that doesn’t speak to the reasons it happened. But it did provide the wherewithal for the embezzlement to occur.

For more information on the incident, read this Legion of Tech post.

Being painfully open about the incident

Now by all rights, Legion of Tech could have simply remained silent about this incident. So why did they come forward and release this information?

The members to whom I spoke felt an obligation to come forward and to be forthright and as transparent as they could about the incident. They felt an obligation to the Portland tech community. And they felt that members of that community had the right to know what was going on.

Legion of Tech has always been about the community. And this is just the latest—albeit sad—instance to prove that.

What’s more, the remaining members—who could have easily washed their hands of the situation and walked away—have chosen to remain on board to fix it. And to ensure that the Legion of Tech resolves this issue.

And yes, to answer the question hanging out there, Ignite Portland 7 will still go on.

Where do we go from here?

No doubt, this is something which will not only shake the foundation of the Portland tech community—something for which the Legion of Tech has been seen as a de facto ombudsman—but will also likely send ripples through the Ignite community, given that the LoT-managed Ignite Portland is one of the more successful Ignites around.

As for me, I’ve got any number of angles that tie me to this story, both personally and professionally. Silicon Florist is a regular sponsor of Legion of Tech events, I serve on the Advisory Board for Legion of Tech, and I count the members of Legion of Tech among my friends.

And this revelation hurts on all counts. And I, like you, feel betrayed. And more than a bit confused. It’s just, well, surreal.

This is horrible news. And it’s a horrible thing to happen to people whom I know and respect. But, in all honesty, my real concern is that this whole thing could hurt the entire Portland tech community. And that’s much more of a concern to me.

The Legion of Tech has served an incredibly important role in the formation of this burgeoning Portland tech community. And LoT—much like CubeSpace—has been a key component of helping the Portland tech community to grow and prosper. And, well, become a community.

And now, the Legion of Tech will suffer a lack of trust. And likely some definitive retribution.

And that, in turn, will hurt the community, undermine it, and potentially destroy it.

But I sincerely hope it doesn’t.

I think it’s important to remember that this was the act of one individual. The organization is dealing with the situation in the best way they know how. They’re getting assistance. And in an effort to prevent something like this from happening again, they’re making their accounting practices more rigorous.

They’ve learned a lesson. And maybe—just maybe—it’s a lesson that will serve to inform any number of handshake-and-friendship startups in here in town.

Maybe now is the time to make your practices more formal. To protect you, your family, your friends, and your business partners. Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in a similar situation, but if you should, you’ll be better prepared to deal with it. Because trust only goes so far.

Right now, I’m saddened and, admittedly, in shock. But I know one thing for sure. I know that I will continue to support the remaining members of the Legion of Tech as best I can. And hope that there is a quick and permanent resolution to this incident. For the sake of all of those involved.

And for the sake of the community.

  1. […] had been severely hamstrung and weakened by the act of a lone board member, Todd Kenefsky, embezzling from the organization. In reparation, Kenefsky admitted to the theft of funds, apologized for his actions, and agreed to […]

  2. […] had been severely hamstrung and weakened by the act of a lone board member, Todd Kenefsky, embezzling from the organization. In reparation, Kenefsky admitted to the theft of funds, apologized for his actions, and agreed to […]

  3. […] some preemptive damage control in the event that All Things Critical focused its attention on the Legion of Tech embezzlement scandal, which we now know has resulted in Legion of Tech practically shutting […]

  4. […] grassroots organization established to help fund and manage Portland are tech events—fell victim to embezzlement. Details at the time were obviously nebulous, due to advice from counsel. And every time talk of […]

  5. @alexanderhoward This was a welcomed comment. Though, I take issue with your opening with regard to Silicon Florist itself. I just looked at the Headline of the Post again; and, the first paragraph. My opinion is that Silicon Florist should take a step back and review how it “reports.” The “personal” tone of all this is what the issue is now about, and Silicon Florist threw a fair bit of kindling and gasoline on the fire that had barely started…

    There was a general lynch mob feel to all this until a few Comments showed up this morning along the lines of “hey, hold on a minute…let’s not all rush to being judge/jury/executioner at once…” And, let’s not support those who take that position or promote a public lynching.

    LoT can resolve whatever they need to resolve with their former colleague, hopefully, in private. That is not what this Comment Thread is about. It’s about how this was handled, both by LoT, Silicon Florist and others.

    Minimally, it was way, way, way too personal. And, before Posting such personal responses, people should be forced to tie their hands behind their backs for 24 hours and think before pressing ENTER.

    I believe that Silicon Florist should have done more than sit back and watch the day go by. This Blog site certainly elevated the issue and kicked up a storm. Sure, they’ve gained a lot of traffic, but, not the kind that will help them in the long run. And, LoT should have done a whole lot more to handle this with a dash of humility.

  6. Alexander Howard October 28, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Rick, Thank you again for your responsible reporting and staying out of the mud and muck of speculation and accusation. I’m sure that in time both sides of the story will come out and we can each make informed decisions on our own. Until we hear the whole story, any speculation is just cheap and salacious gossip mongering.

    Raven, I am grateful for all Legion of Tech has done for the Portland technology community. Thank you! I am sure this is an difficult situation for you and the other board members. You all have my well wishes and sympathies. BUT…Legion of Tech’s statements and comments seem very odd and singularly concerned with directing any guilt away from the board, not really being open with the community. Legion of Tech’s post nor subsequent comments or tweets offer any apology whatsoever. None. No “We’re sorry”, but merely “Don’t blame us”. You commented here once again not to apologize to the community or sponsors, disclose any new information or step up and take responsibility, but reassert once again, “Don’t blame me!”. That’s the common theme here, and seems your only agenda. It comes off as petty and self serving rather than open and responsible.

    Here is what I believe you are hoping isn’t said, and it happens to be the truth so I’m going to say it: It was the board of directors’ responsibility to have implemented proper controls and checks to ensure this didn’t happen in th first place. In this regard the Legion of Tech board was absolutely negligent and at least partially responsible. Some would say equally culpable. I think the Legion of Tech board is going overboard in trying to publicly humiliate this individual over and over in blog comments and tweets(we’re not specifically naming him or her, but we’ll make it easy enough to figure out….wink wink) in hopes to divert any attention and possible accusations of it’s own negligence and irresponsible practices. Enough already…we get it: You desperately don’t want to accept any blame or responsibility for your own negligence in the situaltion.

    The responsible and mature thing would have been for Legion of Tech to simply apologize and take responsibility for it’s role in the matter and leave it at that. Repeated updates and comments, not to give new information, but merely to divert any blame from you, comes off as a smokescreen. If your goal is openness and credibility, it doesn’t help your cause. If the party in question truly has admitted guilt, than perhaps you can take a lesson from him or her: When you mess up, have the honesty to admit it and move on. No amount of blaming others, even justly, can take the place of that kind of honesty nor can it excuse your own negligence. And going out of your way to unnecessarily and repeatedly tarnish a former co-worker (and friend, as you tweeted this morning) does not engender a good perception of you or Legion of Tech. It’s not classy or professional. Take the high road instead. Once was enough.

    BTW, this isn’t fraud, it’s “alleged fraud”. Ask your lawyer to explain the difference, what consitutes defimation, and the possible legal risks to yourself and Legion of Tech by publicly accusing someone of a crime before it’s actually been determined to be so in the eyes of the court.

    I don’t care to engage in childish speculation or gossip and will reserve judgment until I hear the whole story and give this individual every consideration until I do. Right now, it’s all just allegations. I’ve seen enough of these situations to know better than to rush to judgment based on one side’s story- especially when that story is only motivated by self-interest, rather than true openness and disclosure. I hope this is all resolved amicably, but at the end of the day Legion of Tech’s reputation will be hurt not because of what happened – money can be replaced, practices improved, lessons learned- but because of the way they handled it after the fact- failure to take public responsiblilty and repeatedly holding a friend up for ridicule in hope to avoid blame for its own mistakes and failures.

  7. There are some very intelligent responses here as well as a few incredibly vapid ones that surprise me given the close knit Portland Tech Community as a whole. Honestly I think that when it is time for the guilty party to come forward that they will.

    I know it wasn’t me, as I stated in my letter of resignation to the board 3 months ago, between raising a family with my wife Zoe & trying to run a software startup I just didn’t have any spare time to devote to the board. Luckily I was only on the tech committee and had nothing to do with finances (I’m a moron when it comes to math).

    All that aside, just like with CubeSpace the LoT needs your help, prayers and glad tidings and not petty backdoor sniping or snark. So does the perpetrator of this action. We don’t know the reasons they may have had for doing this, what we do know is that this person made a choice to try and help out the Portland Tech Community and to build a fellowship with all of us. Regardless of what happened in the end, that’s pretty damn noble and something we should all aspire to do more often.

  8. I feel saddened by this whole situation. Sad for the innocent LoT board and affiliates, sad for the perpetrator and sad that we can’t all seem to just deal with this privately and move on.

    Perhaps it should have remained private, but it isn’t any longer, so let’s let them resolve it without undue drama.

    I am not a techie, but this community is full of some of the best and nicest people I’ve ever known. It still is and I’m thankful that I know so many of you.

    This too shall pass.

  9. here’s just what i wanna say —

    LoT has put on some great events in the year or so i’ve been hanging out with this community (introduced to them all by the ubiquitous & talented mr. @donpdonp, my former roomie & tenant & a great pal). i’m very happy they exist, bar camp exists in portland, ignite exists, etc. i would not enjoy or know half the things i needed to help bring up my sagging skill set in web & coding back up to par, after a five year hiatus, if it weren’t for their existence and these events. and i am very grateful for this. and i say this as a person who got his ignite presentation given the beeg ol’ thumbs down. oh well, i can always submit another next time. ;o)

    and yes, we all need to work together, not overly criticize what’s done is done, to make sure there is still are many, many more next times, that there is still a legion of tech or whatever form it takes, and that this and other burgeoning tech community creative, informative & fun events (hello? steven walling championing a TED PDX?) continue and gain momentum, despite set backs like this. or, as raven & adam have indicated, that they are learned from and actually make the board and wider community stronger for it.

    to raven, adam, chris, etc., i agree & stand with you on this.

    i personally appreciate this “spirit of openness” they are attempting here. we can all “monday morning quarterback” until we’re bloody blue in the face about when it should have been done, how it should have been done, how much more privacy should have been employed, etc. personally, i’m trusting they followed the advice of their legal counsel, and didn’t say a word until it was ok to do so. personally, this is what i want to see. trust me, i’ve been there (more on that in a bit). i’ve been a big, hyooooge corporations and start-ups where just the sort of private, behind-closed-doors skullduggery and “keeping it private for legal” or “keeping it private to save a person’s feelings/reputation” is given as an excuse to a bunch of people who are directly effected by the outcome any way. you may wish we don’t live in the social media facebook/twitterverse, amongst the twitteratti, as i call them, any more. guess what? that genie don’t fit so easily back in the bottle (neither does barbara eden, but no matter). even before social media, twitter, blogs, etc., word got out. and then, at these companies, i got to hear it through gossip — which always makes you look over your shoulder and question if you’ve really gotten the whole true story. LoT is not a big corporation. i have no idea if they ever filed for 501c(3), or the like. but they are a group of dedicated volunteers who love tech & this community & want to see it grow. until the case of this one person making this breach of trust, who has been removed and is being dealt with by their legal counsel, i have never had any reason to doubt their motivations or what they do for this community. in fact, this spirit of openness, now that the situation is dealt with, makes me trust them all the more. they are not, in any way, beholden to any of these very corporatesque standards people seem to want to hold them too about what should be private when. this is the new way of doing things — the new openness. i like this better. the openness. yeah, i like it a lot.

    as the saying goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

    as for rick & silicon florist — he’s doing his job. he reports on portland/nw tech scene and has an angle of encouraging it to flourish. jokingly, i call rick my “newman” or “arch-nemesis” just to have a laugh with him at gatherings & such about how much we can over-market & hype anything, especially in tech. but i know his aim here is true. it was a story that was out there on a blog, about something that effects the tech scene here in a big way. he reported on it and gave us his view. that’s just doing his job, not creating “hoo-hah” (wotevah dat is).

    now, on a more personal note — i have a very personal sort of feeling & somewhat of a connection to this situation, because i have been in the position, in the past, of the person who took the money & hid what they were doing. yes, that’s right, i’m coming clean about this. in the 90s, i worked for a very big software company, kind of well-known. while working in one department dealing with corporate clients, i was given a card to make long-distance calls to call back important clients on evenings & weekends. when i moved to another department, i just very purposefully neglected to mention i still had the card. i ran up about $2300 in long-distance charges on that card over the next 2 years. when it was found out by a manager, i got fired, had to re-pay back the money charged on the phone card, and lost a career i had built up over 6 years. i was lucky — they could have also called the cops. and i paid a price in reputation, especially as a fledgling zen buddhist at the time.

    so i’m not excusing what this person has done in any way — anymore than i’m excusing what i did way back in the day (a decade ago, now). both were a breach of trust, wrong and just very dumb ass. but i’m saying i understand, maybe better than a lot of people, how he or she feels right now. our tendency, as we try to come off as all so hip, superior, witty & snarky in the blogosphere/twitterverse, would be to vilify and ‘erect gallows.’ i’m hoping, as someone who has been through this, maybe not. yes, this person will need to bear the brunt of people’s hurt feelings & abused trust for a while. maybe a long while. the best thing they can do is to hear people’s hurt & anger, and say, “you’re right, i did that, and it was horribly wrong and i will never do that again” (and of course, back that up with action). and previous status & responsibilities entrusted with this person are not going to happen now. but i’m hoping restitution and real amends (which is different from “i’m sorry,” amends is actual changed behavior), over time, they can begin to re-integrated in the community.

    that’s what i hope, at least. as someone who has been there.

    and i don’t think LoT has anything to apologize for here. that is way too much ‘blame the victim’ for me. they have my support, in this trying time. as they should from anyone who has benefitted from what they’ve done here in portland tech.

    if anything, we should re-double efforts to help get them sponsors for events like ignite, now that their dealing with a very obvious short-fall.

    my $0.02, plain.

  10. As someone who has been on the other side of a situation where one wishes to share the broad outline with the affected community, yet can’t share everything, I want to commend the Legion of Tech board. I appreciate your openness and telling us what you can. I further appreciate the fact that you are fulfilling your legal and ethical responsibilities by not telling us what you shouldn’t.

    As for all of those who are busy critiquing the Legion of Tech board for how they are handling this situation: cut them a break. If you think this sucks for you and the portland tech community, allow me to assure you it sucks for them so much more deeply you need a pressure suit to get there. They have been betrayed, personally and professionally, and are no doubt feeling very hurt. Are there things which might have been done avoid this? Probably. However, that’s easy to see in retrospect.

    I’d like to ask everyone, for the good of the portland tech community, to let this issue go a little quiet. The Legion of Tech will tell us more as they can. In the meantime, we can direct our efforts to doing things that built community rather than tear it down.

  11. @edborasky hit nail on head.

    Both LoT and Silicon Florist really bungled this one. Much of it does seem personal (with malice), along with some of the Comments here. And, really, names were named through how certain parties were presented as innocent, leaving the obvious.

    Think before you post.

    If you are putting up a flashing billboard that states a crime has been committed, then, make sure you follow some rules of journalism, allow the other side their say. If a resolution was reached, and one side didn’t have a lawyer, and one did, I assure you, there will be question marks on this forever.

    Has more damage been done by the reaction than by the *crime* itself? Is this fair and balanced?

    Yes, we’ll all be more guarded and disclose far less to people who appear to not understand the impact of releasing information in less than a balanced manner.

  12. I think to a sizable chunk of the people in Portland, involved in tech, this is a just a passing event, the only real significance being it involved some guys they’ve never actually met, but may be a acquaintance of a friend.

    I see some people who made mistakes. That’s excusable. People do that sometimes. Perhaps they don’t learn form it, then they would lose some of my respect.
    I don;t criticize their transparency here, that’s what I’d like to expect from Portland folk. People acting more like people, less like excessively role-bound automatons and not sweeping all the messy details under the rug of the organizational entity and legal process.

    If my somewhat detached opinion is any indicator for any of the other people out there without any personal connections to this group, I’d be willing to bet that the sensationalized condemnations of sensationalism expressed on this board thus far do more harm than favor to the credibility of their argument.
    Feel free to dismiss that as pure speculation, as I don’t claim to have done any surveys. I do feel pretty comfortable in saying that for many, this is likely not a terribly personal matter.

    To an uninvolved observer much like myself, I would imagine that some of the commenters here do come off as having a personal axe to grind, and not quite sounding the logical voice of reason they imagine themselves. Again, speculation, maybe you intended to sound heavily opinionated. Maybe you should blog about it. 😀

    Feel free to cross Chris O’Rourke off that list btw. He quit due to unrelated personal matters.

    Any opinion worth merit deserves a name attached to it.

    Just adding my $0.02 but it’s okay, I don’t expect any change in return.

  13. Adam, in my humble opinion, what would have been best for the organization and the community would have been for this *never* to hit the blogosphere / Twittersphere at all! You would think that the Portland community had learned some things from the CubeSpace events about peoples’ need for privacy, discretion, tact, public relations. why some meetings are held behind closed doors and just general business courtesy. It looks to me very much like we haven’t.

    I don’t know any of you very well, but I *do* know all of you, just as I know David and Eva. Where do we go from here? Hell, I don’t know, but what I do know is that I’m not feeling very bullish about the “tech community” after *two* incidents where the “public’s right to know” or “spirit of openness” or whatever got out of control in the space of a year.

    And the next time someone asks me what I’m hacking on, or building, or whatever, don’t be too terribly surprised if I’m a little less forthcoming than I have been over the past year. It seems to me that the stakes are higher – much higher – now.

  14. TacoGirl, NoNamesPosted and anyone else with questions about this issue, I’d be happy to buy you coffee and hear more about what you think. We’re trying to do what’s best for the organization and the community and that includes you. Follow my website to the contact form and let me know when works best for you.

  15. I’m curious if the remaining board members are planning to step down after this is over. The fact that a theft like this was able to go undetected for any amount of time is a fundamental failure in their role as board members. I would hope that for the sake of a great organization that those remaining would accept their responsibility in this mess and step aside. I for one won’t be contributing any money until I know that there is leadership in place that truly understands what it takes to run a successful organization.

  16. @jasonglaspey I think the point of those who’ve taken issue with this is that LoT and this blog are responsible for this being such a hoo-ha. And, they didn’t need to stir it up so big, at least not yet. Unfortunately, those on LoT’s board, and this blog, who started postings and comments should have refrained. There’s a reason “no comment” is part of our lexicon.

    That’s really the issue. Saying LoT has mishandled a bad situation is fair to then comment on (by the rest of us), and for what little good it may do, it may also balance any harm that may be inappropriately leveled on someone. We just don’t know.

    I agree, everyone should chillax a bit now. But, it’s unfortunate that LoT did a fairly poor PR job here, for themselves.

    Telling people there’s “nothing more to see..move along” is both condescending and, frankly, one-sided. LoT can continue to “comment” here but others can’t?

    Are you the new comment gestapo?

    /so long

  17. First of all, this is unfortunate and I’m bummed for everyone, but it happens. It happens a lot. I feel for all involved, including the self-confessed guilty party. Shit happens and it’s bad and right now is probably a stomach ache in a dozen stomachs.

    However, in regards to all the people commenting on LoT’s failures (not naming, fanning flames, gray zones, etc). This whole thing will quiet down a lot faster if people quit pointing fingers at them. Really, an incident occurred and they were open and honest without directly incriminating anyone. Now, let’s let them deal with this how they need to.

    If someone is publicly humiliated, well, maybe they shouldn’t have misused the LoT bank accounts. If their personal story demands a need for some grace, then they can come forward and tell their story. The Portland tech community is pretty loving, accepting, forgiving, and hopeful in all of our potential (i know i know-that’s cheesy, but it’s mostly true). So, let’s move on and put this behind us. To those that are affected, godspeed. To those that aren’t, let’s get back to our day and quit rubber-necking on the side of the freeway. Nothing more to see here until there’s something to see. Move along.

  18. @raven says…

    The person who committed the fraud has admitted guilt to no less than four individuals – three board members, and to our attorney.

    Everyone – please let us do our jobs. We need to act responsibly.


    If this is such a done-deal, then, why isn’t there a joint statement, or the gallows being erected? “Our lawyers are telling us not to name names” does not sound like a done deal.

    It sounds very open ended and unresolved. Guilt may have gray zones, etc.

    Acting responsibly? This seems as though it could have been contained and managed, instead, it’s all bloated outrage and public humiliation. The half-statements fan more flames than extinguish them.

    There is a whole lotta’ drama-queen feel about this.

    OK, someone “confessed.” So, deal with it as a Board should, behind closed doors, then make a public statement based on whatever is settled. After it’s concluded.

    I think some apologies, from both sides, should be expected to follow all this. Then, people can determine if forgiveness or banishment is in order.

    Really, making public statements in advance of a settlement and resolution (which sounds like you’re well on your way to) actually undermines the organization’s reputation as much as the person who may have caused the initial harm.

    My respect level across the board (no pun intended; though, this posting board should be included) has dropped way down..

  19. The LoT has told us that they cannot name the individual due to legal matters.

    Please respect this. Stop gossiping. Stop adding fuel to the fire.

    Let’s move on to something positive.

    (Chocolate is always good.)

  20. “The person who committed the fraud has admitted guilt to no less than four individuals – three board members, and to our attorney.”

    I still find it so odd that no one will name “the person”. Thirty seconds with Google cache a pretty likely candidate, but I can’t fathom the reason behind continued tap-dancing and indirect references.

  21. @nonamesposted @mileyrd I think it’s better for LoT to get the story out in the open before it spreads like rumor wildfire. It’s their chance to say, “Hey, we had an incident, and here’s what we’re doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” They’ve always behaved openly and honestly, like the PDX Tech scene are their shareholders, and this is no exception.

  22. “That this posting, and others related to it, all convey such superiority and penultimate knowledge of guilt PRIOR TO A DETERMINATION OF GUILT is disturbing.”

    “it does feel like a public witch burning without a trial or due process.”

    The person who committed the fraud has admitted guilt to no less than four individuals – three board members, and to our attorney.

    Everyone – please let us do our jobs. We need to act responsibly.

  23. @nonamesposted may have a point.

    this does seem like a witch hunt and very personal.

    at best, it is irresponsible and not worthy of the tone and outrage. how many businesses have had someone in charge spend a few thousand on non-approved items?

    it’s not good. it’s not right. but, it’s usually dealt with with a level of response that is equal to the crime. that is, if there was one? since, yes, we are supposed to presume innocence at this moment in time?

    it does feel like a public witch burning without a trial or due process.

  24. Raven-

    Thank you for taking time to enlighten us on the ongoing situation. My heart aches for all those involved. Please let us know what any of us can do to help the LoT.


    When I said protect, I meant the feeling you have for a close friend, even when he/she has hurt you. Not that you would avoid consequences.

  25. Seems like it would be a lot easier to get the name out there. This post already has 3 names listed in the comments….I feel bad for the 2 that are innocent.

    People are talking…online and in real life. Might as well steer people in the proper direction instead of letting innocent people suffer.

    Rick..I am sure you know. You aren’t on the board. You can say.

  26. Thanks all (raven, adam, rick…) for keeping us in the loop.

  27. This kind of half-a-disclosure and overblown outrage speaks more to the culture of blog and twitter than to the issue.

    Everyone is desperate to “get out the news” in some half-baked fashion — and, GUARANTEED, regardless of facts that may emerge in an investigation and eventual settlement or legal action, postings and comments like these will RUIN SOMEONE’S LIFE.

    What if, just “what if?” there are two sides to this story?

    I don’t know if there are or there aren’t — but, I do know that pre-twitter and the mad desperate rush to post things in public, an event like this would have been dealt with by the Board, the Individual, a lawyer or two. Likely a settlement with non-disclosure terms, and maybe some private mutterings between colleagues, but, no PUBLIC DAMAGE AND HUMILIATION. If professional humiliation is in order, that always has a way of rippling through business.

    You don’t always need to carry out public witch hunts and escalate to burnings. Sometimes issues are settled, people learn, accounts are settled and life goes on without a post or a tweet..

    That this posting, and others related to it, all convey such superiority and penultimate knowledge of guilt PRIOR TO A DETERMINATION OF GUILT is disturbing.

    What Country is this?

    Oh, the Country of social media.

    It’s interesting, that by “not naming names” (in a town so small and incestuous, I mean, really), you must be pretending to yourself that you’re being responsible – or, you’re hoping to avoid any possible legal consequences yourself?

    Before you Post or Tweet, how about taking time to research and give some thought to things? Right, I know I know, journalists did stuff like that and they’re out of work, so, it must be a bad idea…

    This town really bites the big one sometimes with it’s pretentiousness.

  28. Hi everyone. I am posting this on both the Silicon Florist and Legion of Tech blogs to answer some questions that people have concerning our announcement yesterday.

    First of all, thank you to everyone for the outpouring of support on Twitter and in the various blog posts. Last week was a very difficult week for the Legion of Tech board members and delivering bad news is a hard thing to do. It’s understandable that people in the community have a mix of emotions – shock, disappointment, sadness, anger – we as board members are experiencing these same emotions. So far, time isn’t making these wounds heal any faster.

    We first learned of the fraud on Monday, October 19th. It consumed the entire day for a set of board members investigating the matter and we held an emergency board meeting in the early evening with all board members present to make a number of quick decisions. These decisions included the hiring of an attorney (who we had spoken with earlier in the day), the hiring of a bookkeeper for a detailed audit, and new accounting policies for all future expenditures requiring at least two board members to approve. The two board resignations in August occurred months before we knew of this fraud, so those resignations are unrelated.

    How did this fraud happen? Adam walked through this in his posting on the Legion of Tech blog, but I wanted to add a few comments. This fraud was the act of a single individual, acting alone, without the knowledge of the other board members. We were regularly presented with false information, and a bank account that we were told was closed was kept open to abuse a credit card. We’ve been producing events as a group in Portland before there was a Legion of Tech. When Legion of Tech was formed, roles and responsibilities carried over into the organization. There was a proven trust coming in, and that trust was abused. If there is a lesson here to be learned for others, it’s that where money is concerned, friendships and past trust should not be a justification for minimal oversight.

    In terms of why we are making this issue public but not specifically naming the individual at fault here. As a board of five members, there is a diversity of opinions about how we should handle this matter. As we are taking the advice of legal counsel, someone who has dealt with these exact types of situations before, our own opinions as board members are not important. We have to follow the advice from an expert at this time as to how to best handle the situation. We are definitely not making decisions based on a desire to minimize the negative impact to the person who committed the fraud – we are following the guidance of our attorney, guidance that may change over time depending upon how this situation unfolds.

    The events will go on, and our hope is that the community will continue to allow us to serve. We remain committed to these events and hope that the community will continue to enjoy attending them as much as we enjoy hosting them.

  29. Bad individuals can happen to the best organizations. League of Tech is to be commended for being refreshingly candid about this incident. Organizations, particularly volunteer ones, that are in high-growth mode can almost be counted upon to stumble. How they respond is the key – and LoT responded swiftly and openly.

    LoT has important work to do – and with this incident behind them, and they will continue to help make the Portland technology scene grow and prosper.

  30. This incident, while certainly devastating, should do nothing to tarnish the good name of the LoT. The act was done by one (I can only assume desperate) individual. My opinion of the LoT had not changed one bit.

    I understand that the LoT members are probably extremely shocked both professionally and personally, and feel the need to protect the person/have yet to really process what has gone on.

    However, by not being clear about the individual involved, a state of confusion and finger pointed has begun. And sadly, this WILL change people’s opinion of the LoT.

    Best of luck to everyone involved.

  31. Looks like Todd Kenefsky was the previous Chair, and before that the Treasurer. If he’s smart he’ll come forward, pay back the money, and ask for forgiveness. It’s the only way he can stay and thrive in Portland.

    I see two board members resigned in August and am curious if that had anything to do with this situation:

    Craig Fisk
    Chris O’Rourke

  32. “The Legion of Tech has served an incredibly important role in the formation of this burgeoning Portland tech community”

    A little over the top don’t you think? Great people, but hardly as important as that statement implies.

  33. Did I miss it or is there no name here?

  34. A why the tap dancing around naming the the individual?

  35. Two statements have me in question of your reporting.

    “a previous board member had taken money from the organization.”
    “Actions were taken to freeze both accounts and the individual was removed from the Board.”

    Were they previous board member or current? One or the other. Which?

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