#2. The Charity Worker Who Stole Christmas
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The former head of a San Diego-based foster children organization, 75-year-old Virginia Prieto Kelly regularly assisted in toy and charity drives for the local youngsters. Kelly, who specialized in working with Spanish-speaking foster families, was well respected in the community, having won national awards for her decades of public service.
She once raised $500,000 for cancer research at an office pizza party.
Often working with organizations like Toys for Tots and the Child Abuse Prevention Organization, Kelly's job was to distribute toys to thousands of needy or underprivileged children. So it was pretty much the most adorably feel-good job a person can have. How the hell can a real-life Santa Claus get corrupted by power? What would that even look like?
Yeah, Kelly decided to steal more than 12,000 toys, storing them in two locked bedrooms in her home, as well as in her daughter's house and an off-site storage facility. The estimated value of the pilfered toys: $375,000. That's a lot of Nerf guns.
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Sadly, the Furbies turned feral and had to be euthanized.
Kelly was found out when a local foster mother complained about not being able to get any toys to give to her kids. When authorities asked her about it, Kelly said she had already distributed all the year's items, then as soon as she thought they had left, she and a few accomplices hurriedly packed Kelly's car with bags and bags of bright, colorful, noisy toys in what must have been the least subtle getaway attempt ever.
At her trial, Major Donald Prograis, an organizer for the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program, said that Kelly "stole not just toys, she stole Christmas."
"Of course I stole all of the toys, for all of the girls and the boys,
I needed toys to cure my itch, you all must think that I'm a bitch."
Kelly was found guilty of grand theft, and the judge sentenced her to 60 days in jail and 120 additional days of home confinement. When asked what she planned to do with the hoarded toys, Kelly said, "I like to be prepared for rainy days." We have to admit, her rainy days sound fun as hell.
#1. The Lab Assistant's Semen Heist
Karen Saum worked at Genetic Connection, a laboratory in Clark County, Ohio, specializing in storing and distributing animal semen to be used in artificial insemination. Well shit, someone's got to do it.
"If you really want the best horse genes, I recommend Caligula's Private Reserve."
So what would a corrupt person do with access to a huge amount of bull semen? Use your imagination.
OK, it wasn't any of those things you imagined, you sick bastard. She just stole it.
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"This is totally not bull semen, if that's what you're thinking."
Shortly after losing her job with the lab, she did what any disgruntled ex-semen-wrangler would do and returned after-hours to exact some revenge. Using her knowledge of the facility and its storage, she stole a liquid nitrogen container housing $110,000 worth of the lab's most valuable bull semen. That's not a typo. That bull semen was worth six figures. Hey, how much would you charge to jerk off a bull? It's probably even harder than it sounds.
Saum's plan was apparently to trade the semen back to the bull's owner in exchange for help in starting a small business. The game was up when police searched Saum's garage, after getting a tip that she was using it to hide a huge nitrogen tank full of ill-gotten goo. But honestly, it couldn't have taken her employer long to figure out who had sneaked in and stolen the sperm -- as one detective put it, "She knew where this semen would have been located. It was actually locked in an interior closet because it was more valuable than some of the other that they had out." If this had been a heist movie, she'd have gotten away with it, after a whole tense sequence where she carefully replaces the contents with mayonnaise.
Which turns out to be too heavy, and then she's chased by a giant boulder.
Kevin Phelan is a journalist in New York's Lower Hudson Valley. You can book his face here.
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