January 23, 2015; Omaha World-Herald

NPQ has written a number of articles about the physical and emotional benefits of volunteering, but now, for the other side of the coin, how could one ruin one’s life through volunteering?

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) barred Mark Ciriaco from the securities industry for life after he used the debit card of Sing Omaha, a nonprofit group, to pay for $31,000 of personal expenses. He had been a volunteer with the group from 2009 to 2014.

FINRA is the self-policing organization for the U.S. broker-dealer profession. The FINRA summary details the kinds of expenditures as “payments of Ciriaco’s home utility bills, grocery purchases, professional licensing fees and cash withdrawals in amounts varying from $100 to $3,000.”

“The organization’s board of directors reviewed its bank statements and identified transactions tied to Ciriaco that the directors claimed were not related to the organization’s operations,” FINRA said. “Members of the organization’s board confronted Ciriaco about the unauthorized expenditures and demanded repayment.”

Ciriaco did not dispute FINRA’s ban “because of the large expense involved and because he was planning to change occupations anyway.” (Ciriaco left Securian in October 2014, according to the report, after the unauthorized spending at the nonprofit surfaced.) Still, NPQ admits this is the first time we can recall reporting on someone drummed out of his profession by defrauding a nonprofit.—Ruth McCambridge