Leaders of theSan
Francisco Zen Centerhave
ordered an audit and called a membership meeting following
revelations that their longtime treasurer stole $60,000 from the
Buddhist temple and its popular vegetarian restaurant, Greens.
Zen Center PresidentBarbara
the nonprofit group's treasurer of 14 years,Bill
has confessed to stealing the money and has paid it back.
"Chronic alcohol abuse clouded Bill's reasoning and sense of ethics,"
Kohn said in a letter sent out to the center's 800 members.
"Although he had previously been a devoted Zen student, during his
tenure as treasurer, he was not practicing meditation."
Reached for comment yesterday, Lane said: "It was completely my
doing, and I hope everyone eventually can accept my apology."
Founded in 1962 by the late Japanese Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, the
Zen Center runs a city meditation center at Page and Laguna streets,
Green Gulch farm and retreat center in Marin County, and the
Tassajara Buddhist monastery in the mountains east of Big Sur.
In her letter to Zen Center members and donors, Kohn said Lane
confessed to the embezzlement to Abbots Mel Weitsman and Reb
Anderson in June 1995, saying he had taken approximately $60,000
over the past three years.
Lane also told them he had returned the money by making an anonymous
donation to the Zen Center before resigning as treasurer.
Kohn said neither Weitsman nor Anderson told her or Zen Center board
members about the embezzlement until last month.
"I wish I had been told, but I understand the bind they were in,"
Kohn said in an interview yesterday. "It's an unknown area when you
are confessing to a priest. There are issues of confidence."
Kohn said board members will not discuss the possibility of criminal
charges against Lane until an audit has been completed.
"What we have at this point is his version of the facts," said Kohn.
According to Kohn, new accounting procedures have been implemented
at the Zen Center, which has $6 million in assets and a $2.9 million
Greens, the popular vegetarian restaurant at Fort Mason, is run by a
separate profit-making group, Everyday Corp.
Kohn said Lane had access to some of its money by serving on the
Everyday board of directors.
Kohn and the Zen Center's chairman of the
Espe Brown, have called a general
membership meeting next Wednesday night to discuss the incident.