In the early 1990s, Janet Greenlee was working as a program director at a family service agency in Denver when the organization’s bookkeeper came to her with a dark confession: She was stealing from the nonprofit. The bookkeeper’s misdeeds started out small. Her car was in the shop, she was short on cash, and so she “borrowed” $10 for a cab. No one noticed.

And so the bookkeeper decided to let the organization pay for the car’s repairs as well. Soon enough, she was regularly looting the till,...

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