Military brides called Ephonia Green the "fairy godmother" for her generous donations of wedding gowns. Green was moved by their service, she claimed, and gave away some 275 dresses from her Maryland bridal business.
On Monday, Green is scheduled to appear before the U.S. District Court in one of the largest cases of embezzlement from a nonprofit, the Washington Post reports.
Green, 44, allegedly stole $5.1 million from the Association of American Medical Colleges, while working as an administrative assistant.
Court documents obtained by the Washington Post show an elaborate scheme that had Green allegedly registering company trade names and opening bank accounts in those business names that closely resembled legitimate businesses linked to the association.
Green had access to financial systems that allowed her to create phony invoices in the names of the groups that she then approved for payment. Once the checks were cut she had them returned to her and not mailed out to vendors, the Washington Post reports.
Changing the legitimate business name "Brookings Institution" to "Brookings Institute" allegedly got Green as much as $3.7 million after she created some 200 false invoices and deposited checks into the account she created for the closely spelled version of the well-known policy center.
Green's alleged years-long plot unraveled in July when a bank withheld payment on a $113,000 check that Green was depositing—into an account she had set up two days earlier. According to court records, the bank notified the medical colleges association. While the payment amount was consistent with the amount owed a legitimate vendor, the invoice numbers didn't match. The association grew suspicious and called federal authorities.
It is believed that Green began with small amounts to cover fees incurred by staff members supposedly headed to conferences, the Post reports.
Those amounts ballooned over time, and the Post reports that Green allegedly netted an amount that would be nearly 90 times her salary. While there is no clear record of what the money was used for, it is believed that some was spent on auto loans, church donations and personal items.
Some of the money was used to keep up her Upper Marlboro bridal shop, Couture Miss. Several news stories and a few television appearances boasted about Green's charitable contributions.
The association has filed a separate civil case in hopes that a federal court will prevent Green and her husband from selling property, including a $1.1 million home in Upper Marlboro.
Read more at the Washington Post.