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A Ballet School Rehired an Embezzler. Then $1.5 Million Vanished. | Press "Enter" to skip to content

A Ballet School Rehired an Embezzler. Then $1.5 Million Vanished.

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Ms. Kim, who is also known as Sookyeong Kim Sebold, joined the Unification Church at 19 in South Korea, she told the court during her first trial. Now 59, she came to the United States in 1983 and married an American who served as a church lawyer.

After working for the Kirov, she was later hired by the Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit affiliated with the church that largely served to funnel its money and other donations to the Kirov, Little Angels and Universal Ballet.

But between 2001 and 2005, while she was working for the foundation, Ms. Kim often drove to Atlantic City to play Blackjack with its money, according to federal prosecutors in Virginia who charged her with filing a false tax return and tax evasion. The government said the investigation began because of discrepancies between the amount of money flowing through her personal accounts and what she had reported on her income tax returns.

Ms. Kim’s lawyers said her efforts were not designed to benefit her personally. Rather, they argued, Ms. Kim, a devoted church member and divorced mother of three, was gambling and day trading in an effort to offset poor investments made by Ms. Moon’s father, Bo Hi Pak, a church leader who ran the nonprofit and was a top aide to Rev. Moon.

“She thought she’d have a chance to raise additional revenue,” Kevin Brehm, her lawyer, said at trial.

But the jury found her guilty and she was sentenced to two years in prison in 2013.

Unification Church leaders did not appear outraged by Ms. Kim’s conduct. Mr. Pak, who ran the foundation from which Ms. Kim took the money, said he believed she was acting in its interest. He and his daughter, Ms. Moon, the general director of the Universal Ballet, which relied on funding from the nonprofit, wrote the court requesting leniency.


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