Clerk charged with stealing $1 million from New York Archdiocese

St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City
Getty Images
St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City
Getty Images

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Anita Collins, a former clerk at the Archdiocese of New York, is accused of stealing more than $1 million in money meant to oversee schools and using it to purchase a doll collection and clothing among other things, prosecutors and the archdiocese said Monday.

Prosecutors say Collins, 67, spent over seven years covertly writing hundreds of checks, each for less than $2,500, to her son and logging them as payments for legitimate church expenses. 

During that time, prosecutors say Collins acquired an extensive doll collection, $23,000 worth of clothes from Barney's and Brooks Brothers, $19,000 worth of items from an Irish gift shop and other luxuries while working a $35,000-to-$50,000-a-year job at the Roman Catholic archdiocese.

Collins was arraigned on grand larceny and other charges. She is now being held on $750,000 bond.

After the investigation, the archdiocese discovered that Collins was convicted in 1999 of stealing more than $50,000 from a temporary staffing agency where she worked, and in 1986 of stealing from another employer, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Amy Justiniano told a judge.

Collins did not disclose her criminal history when hired, archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said.

Justiniano also says Collins, who was fired within 24 hours after the fraud came to light in December, made a full confession after Monday's arrest which was first reported by The New York Times.

The money was stolen from accounts used to run a central office for some of the area's Roman Catholic schools, Zwilling said. Between insurance and potential restitution, the archdiocese expects to recover the funds, he said.