I smell a rat, and his name is Celestino Cruz. Cruz is the 56-year-old Florida father who stole over $30,000 “to pay for his kids’ college tuition.” Cruz was arrested Wednesday afternoon on 34 counts of uttering a forged instrument and forgery, organized scheme to defraud, and grand theft. He had been the bookkeeper for only a year at Apogee Business Service, which oversees finances for homeowners and condominium associations. The company realized they had been defrauded when a property manager noticed a check was made payable to Cruz instead of a vendor.
My colleague Meredith just wrote about Cruz’s crime and says “this man’s story tugs at my heart strings just a little.” She adds, “Of course as much as he wanted to pay for his kids’ college, he’s also taught them a seriously wrong lesson in getting them there.” I understand why Meredith has feelings of sympathy for this man, even though intellectually she understands what he did was wrong. That’s one way criminals prey on good people, by playing to our innate sense of pity.
But I don’t buy for one second that Cruz stole that money to pay for his kids’ college tuition. He did it because it was the only thing that excited him about an otherwise boring job. Truly financially desperate people aren’t so tricky and clever as to take a check made out to a vendor, have it approved by a property manager and then before delivering it, change the “pay to the order of” to their name.
So before any members of our dear readership bother to have an ounce of sympathy for this man, let’s delve a little deeper into his story and find the holes, shall we?
1.) This man was only the bookkeeper of this organization for a year. Why? He’s 56. What jobs had he held in the past and had he been let go from them for misconduct?
2.) If this man cares so much about his children and family, why is he willing to sell their family home to pay the money back? Does he have a savings account, a 401K?
I don’t have an ounce of pity for a man who blames his need for speed or cash or whatever on his children. If he needed money, why didn’t he just get a second job?
Guys like Cruz offer a slap in the face to all of the immigrants, single mothers and poor parents who are out there every day busting buns to feed their families, getting up at 4 in the morning and coming home at 10 at night. Sorry, Celestino Cruz, but I’m happy to know that you are being punished for your crimes against humanity. Maybe in prison you’ll actually learn how to work.