Peninsula Symphony reports $500,000 missing

Group notified police after discovering disappearance of nearly all of its endowment, operating funds

The Peninsula Symphony is scrambling to raise pledges and donations after recently learning that the bulk of its endowment and operating funds -- about $500,000 -- has gone missing. The Los Altos group has notified police and hired a law firm "to assist with the Symphony's efforts to recover the missing assets," the symphony reported in a press release.

Executive Director Steve Carlton has resigned, and the group is looking for a replacement. In addition, the board of directors is "securing the services of a professional accounting firm to investigate the financial losses and is implementing strengthened financial-control mechanisms to protect future donations and contributions," the release states.

Symphony spokesman Larry Kamer told the Weekly that the group has "a person in mind" as a suspect in the funds' disappearance. He declined to comment further.

This season's concerts are expected to continue as scheduled. They include the symphony's two local performances: concerts with the Stanford University Symphonic Chorus at Bing Concert Hall on campus on Nov. 22 and 24. Other events include concerts in San Mateo and Cupertino.

The season is able to go on because symphony board members and musicians launched a fundraising drive shortly after hearing of the loss; the new pledges and contributions will "fund nearly a half a season's scaled-down operating budget," according to the press release.

The 65-year-old nonprofit symphony is continuing to raise funds "to restore the organization to good financial health to come," the release reads.


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Posted by Raymond
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2013 at 10:41 am

Executive Director resigns. $500,000 missing.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 11, 2013 at 2:24 pm


Magic, or violation of the rules of physics? you decide.

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Posted by Eric Van Susteren
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Oct 11, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate posting:

by Doug Oct 11, 2013 at 12:48 pm

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Eric Van Susteren
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Oct 11, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate posting:

Who is responsible for their accounting and bookkeeping? How can they not know where the money went, or what happened? Have they not asked their accounting staff??
by CPA Oct 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm

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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Let me see if I have this straight, this organization lost $500,000 and they want us to give them more money?
What about some accountability from this organization? How did all that money disappear? Was no one responsible for monitoring financs? Ad they want us to give them more money?
My advice-- close up shop. Figure out who did it and how they got away with it. Get your acts together. Do not come crying to is with whinings about poverty.

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Posted by Seen this before
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm


this appears to be substantially similar to what happened to the Portola Valley and Woodside School Districts: one person handling the money and presenting the financials to the board. Obvious answer is "don't let one person do all of that" but the forensic auditor hired by PVSD said there was a school district in the Central Valley where the entire accounting department got in on the caper, so even that isn't a guarantee.

@Not an issue:

The orchestra isn't crying to you with whinings about poverty, is it? They reported a theft (news), and reached out to their previous donors and patrons for help in rescuing this season while they attempt to recover the stolen funds which were to have financed it. If you don't attend their concerts, no harm has been done to you. If you are a past donor or patron (sounds doubtful), and feel they don't deserve any more of your money, don't send them any. Obviously, there are others who do care about this and have chosen to make donations so that the season can continue.

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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Sorry, when an organization has $500k go missing, I think there are more important things then raising more money and continuing on with the season. But if people wantbto send them more money that is their decision. Seems that arts organizations in this area have problems with financial accountability (PACT)

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Posted by Colorectal
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2013 at 7:36 pm

What in the world ever happened to the old accounting adjunct of checks and balances?

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