Tucson Museum of Art Sees Arraignment of Million Dollar Thief


Following on that last post about swindling and returning to the theme of a post from Monday of “haven’t museums already suffered enough?” we turn to the state of this writer’s upbringing, Arizona, in particular to the southern portion of the state and the Tucson Museum of Art. The museum recently discovered that one Ms. Ruth Sons, its chief accountant, had possibly been stealing around a million dollars over the course of five years using sneaky financial techniques and general ne’re-do-well behavior. We say “possibly” because this is America and people are innocent until proven guilty (we learned this from a recent episode of Law and Order), and Sons was just yesterday arraigned on the charges, appearing for her trial shortly. It’s an interesting true crime story on its own, but of particular interest in just wondering how someone in the museum industry could get away with theft in times like these (though, to be fair, Sons is believed to have begun during 2003, long before everything fell apart everywhere). Here’s a bit about the discovery:

The theft went undiscovered until a full, independent audit was conducted because the museum was so successful at fundraising and selling artists’ works that it never had a problem with day-to-day cash flow, [Assistant Attorney General Mike Jette] said.

“For businesses and non-profits to perform their duties, they have to be able to trust their accountants and their financial managers to do their jobs, and so they are given an immense amount of trust,” Jette said. “Unfortunately, when someone violates that trust, you have more than criminal conduct — you have betrayal of the deepest kind.”