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Community Rallies To Save Peninsula Symphony After Embezzlement

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DougSovern20100908_KCBS_0208r Doug Sovern
Doug began his career as a copy boy at the New York Times, and then...
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SAN MATEO – The Peninsula Symphony is making music again, thanks to the generosity of members and supporters who rallied to raise money for the volunteer organization after an embezzler emptied the orchestra’s bank accounts.

The symphony lost $500,000 when Jay Carlton, its unscrupulous former executive director, nearly bankrupted the organization, said Alan Bien, chairman of the symphony board.

“We trusted him. The whole board trusted him because he was giving us financial reports that seemed to be reasonable,” Bien said.

“We’ve pretty much lost everything, and so this is a very, very devastating situation for us.”

Carlton, now in prison, faces up to 18 years behind bars on charges related to the embezzlement, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

The symphony may never recover the stolen money, but supporters have pulled together about $350,000 to keep the music from being silenced this season.

And Bien said some new checks and balances are now in place as it looks at how to rebuild its endowment.

“We make sure that not one person has that signature ability any more on the checking account,” Bien said.

The sympony has scheduled a full slate of concerts, including a program in local schools that can be supported through donations online.

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