Investigation: Did Mass. Grand Lodge misuse $1.5 million?

July 14, 2008 at 10:13 am (Masonic, Warped) (, , )

The Boston Herald reported on Saturday that an investigation is being conducted into allegations that as much as $1.5 million was embezzled from the 275-year old Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Does this even surprise anyone any more?

From the Boston Herald:

Suffolk County prosecutors are investigating allegations that as much as $1.5 million was embezzled from funds within the headquarters of the secretive Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Masons, sources said.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s Securities Division is launching its own separate probe of the Grand Lodge’s finances, sending a letter of inquiry yesterday to giant financial house UBS for information on its business dealings with the ancient fraternal order, according to a source.

A law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the Suffolk probe told the Herald yesterday that members of the lodge discovered the financial irregularities and took their findings to authorities, who have in turn launched a criminal probe that is zeroing in on two Mason officials.

Authorities within Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley’s office are investigating the potential embezzlement of about $1.5 million over an eight-year period, the source said.

Conley declined to comment through a spokesman. “I cannot confirm or deny any potential investigation,” said Jake Wark.

Assistant Grand Treasurer Craig S. MacPherson referred questions to Grand Secretary Jeffrey L. Gardiner, who acknowledged that a probe is under way but declined to give any other information.

“We can’t make any comment during the investigation,” he said yesterday.

UBS, which Galvin has charged with fraud and dishonest conduct in a separate civil case involving the sale of auction-rate securities to clients, has many business dealings with various Mason entities, sources said.

Galvin’s office has asked UBS to provide by July 25 a description of “the inception of the client relationships and services, the broker or brokers of record, the supervisor of the brokers and documents and materials furnished to the (Massachusetts Grand) Lodge by UBS,” the source said, quoting the letter.

A UBS spokeswoman declined comment yesterday.

The Suffolk and Galvin probes could prove to be yet another blow for area Masons, who several years ago were hit with a scandal involving former money-manager and radio-station owner Brad Bleidt. He was convicted of swindling tens of millions of dollars from area investment victims, many of them Masons.

Bleidt, who used to be a Mason, is now serving time at the federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J.

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GOUSA receives patent from Grand Orient de France

July 6, 2008 at 7:25 pm (Masonic) (, , , , )

On July 4, it was announced on the website of the Grand Orient of the United States of America (GOUSA) that

“The official Patent from the Grand Orient of France giving the Grand Orient of the United States of America legal Masonic authority to work in North America was signed in Paris on Friday, the 27th of June, 2008 at 9:15 AM ET. A Treaty of Amity was also signed between the two sovereign Masonic entities. A delegation of several GOUSA Brothers were present in Paris for this historic event.”

A beautiful, hand-drawn Patent was created for the event.

For details and updates, see the GOUSA website.

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Tonight’s Masonic Central podcast to feature Bro. Tom Accuosti

July 6, 2008 at 5:49 pm (Masonic) (, , , , )

Tonight’s Masonic Central podcast will feature Bro. Tom Accuosti.

Bro. Tom is famous not only for his blog Tao of Masonry, but for being a Purple Apron-wearing Exalted Keeper of the Secrets of Freemasonarianism; Grand Sovereign Pontiff and Secret Exposuer; Ambassador to Zeta-Reticula; Crop Circle Planning & Zoning Commissioner; Aluminum Foil Beanie Fitting and Training Consultant; Team Osiris Obelisk Siting and Surveying; Manager, Dulces/Denver Airport Massage & Day Spa; Cydonia Vacation Resort Concierge; and Past Master, Friendship #33.3 AM & FM, Area 51, Atlantis, or so he says.

He’s also a very worshipful district lecturer for Connecticut’s Fifth Masonic District, rumor has it.

Listen to him rant tonight on the podcast. It’s on at 9 pm Eastern Time, 6 pm Pacific Time.

Image: Connecticut bloggers Movable Jewel (left); W. Bro. Tom Accuosti (center); North Eastern Corner (right)

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Canadian Mason celebrates 4th of July in Georgia

July 5, 2008 at 11:36 am (Masonic) (, , , , )

Yesterday, July 4, I was honored by a visit by Canadian Brother Dean Kennedy and his family, who visited my home and then attended an “old-fashioned Fourth of July picnic” at a nearby river park with my son and me. We had a great time visiting and sharing, eating Southern barbecue, hot dogs, and then jumping into the swimming pool.

Before making the drive to north Georgia on the 4th, Bro. Dean and family visited with Bro. Isaiah Coffey, a Prince Hall Mason in Atlanta.

Bro. Dean and family have been visiting Georgia and South Carolina on vacation and to attend a family reunion in Charleston, SC.

I’m glad I was able to be a part of Bro. Dean’s “first” Fourth of July.

Bro. Dean is the publisher of the blog Freemason’s Corner, and is co-host of the new Masonic Central podcast.

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Replication, re-creation, and resurrection

July 3, 2008 at 11:17 am (Masonic) (, , , )

It’s rather daunting trying to create a new blog out of an old one.

Google/Blogger has proven to be unreliable, having blocked my publishing access to a two-and-a-half year old blog because a robot tagged it as a “possible spam blog.” Inadvertent though it (probably) is, not having the ability to write and post at will after doing so for nearly three years is… well, incredibly restricting as well as incredibly liberating.

For quite a while now, whenever the mood strikes, or an idea hits, or something newsworthy happens, I’ve been able to sit down and immediately write and publish an article. Not being able to do that the past week or so has been an odd feeling, as if my creativity has been dammed up.

On the other hand, though, being locked out of my Blogger-based blog has given me an impetus to stretch out and see what else is available — like WordPress. And it has also given me the opportunity to decide if and/or how much I want to redesign the layout, content and perhaps even purpose of publishing a Masonic-themed blog.

There is a lot of Masonic-related news happening right now. Some of the things I’ve wanted to write about have been picked up on by other Masonic bloggers; some has been totally overlooked.

And then there is wondering what will become of the 900-plus articles I’ve posted on the original Burning Taper? If the bozos at Google/Blogger don’t unblock the blog within the 20 days mentioned in their letter, will the blog and all its contents simply vaporize? I don’t have the time to copy and re-post all those articles. Most of them weren’t that important in the Great Scheme of Things anyway.

But some of the articles, the ones listed under “Burning Taper Backstory” and “Worth Reading Again” had some merit, at least to me. I think I will soon being the task of reposting them here to this new WordPress version of The Burning Taper.

If you’re just stumbling into this new version of The Taper, or if you’ve been reading the old version a while but haven’t checked out the backstory and the “Worth Reading Again” sections, please do so. The articles there are pretty much what I consider “The Best of The Burning Taper.”

The Burning Taper Backstory:

Worth Reading Again:

and my favorite,

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The fire still burns

July 2, 2008 at 11:52 am (Masonic) (, , , )

The Burning Taper logoAfter 2.5 years of regularly posting to the Blogger version of The Burning Taper at burningtaper.blogspot.com, the powers-that-be — namely the mindless robots — at Google/Blogger have decided that, until proven otherwise, The Burning Taper is a “spam blog.”

Though a two-second review would satisfy anyone over the age of seven that The Taper is not a spam blog, I’ve now been blocked from editing or publishing the blog on Blogger for nearly a week. A little bit of research showed that this happens quite often to non-spam blogs, thanks to the robots, and there is no quick-fix among the geniuses at Google. They get around to unblocking blogs when they get around to it, not sooner.

So… I’m experimenting here with WordPress in anticipation of migrating from the insane Blogger service to here.

If you are a blogger or website operator that has graciously linked to The Burning Taper at http://burningtaper.blogspot.com, please change your links to read simply http://burningtaper.com. This has always been an active link to The Taper. Linking to simply BurningTaper.com without the added “blogspot” or “wordpress” will keep your links active, no matter which blogging service The Burning Taper eventually settles down with, or moves to in the future.

Until I decide what to do regarding various hosting options, the link to the original Blogger-based Burning Taper blog is http://burningtaper.blogspot.com, and the link to this, the new WordPress version, is https://burningtaper.wordpress.com. Currently, http://burningtaper.com points to the old Blogger version, but may soon be re-pointed to the WordPress version. I have not yet decided.

Thanks for your continued support of The Burning Taper and the entire Masonic blogging community.

— W.S.

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