By Colleen Mallon
Business Graduate School
Students in Gonzaga University’s Master of Accountancy program are gaining real-world experience while helping the community through the new Justice for Fraud Victims Project, a unique program developed collaboratively by local law enforcement, prosecutors, the Spokane Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and Gonzaga students and faculty.
The effort helps fraud victims in cases where a full forensic accounting investigation would be too costly and time-consuming. Through the program, Gonzaga students enrolled in a forensic accounting lab are assigned to investigative teams supervised by faculty and mentors from the Spokane Chapter of the ACFE.
The vision for the project took shape last summer. K. Jill Bolton, assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, approached Gonzaga accounting faculty Gary Weber and Sara Melendy. Bolton and Melendy created an advisory board to develop the program, which officially launched this spring.
Students, who love taking a course that directly benefits others, say it is challenging but highly rewarding.
Spokane Police Detective Stacey Carr said she “begged for the opportunity to participate” in the program. “For me, this was a chance to achieve justice for my victims,” Carr said.
The project also helps law enforcement investigate more white-collar crimes and establish a loss amount for prosecution.
The program has been so successful, Gonzaga hopes to develop it into a center that could be funded entirely by grants, community groups and private donors, said Associate Professor Weber, who directs Gonzaga’s accounting programs.
For more information, contact Colleen Mallon via e-mail or at (509) 313-7047.