Alleged Orchid Nonprofit Embezzler Faces Felony Charges

How will the city's orchid enthusiasts trust their organization again?

(Courtesy Image)

Spending two years with the San Francisco Orchid Society seems like one of the least likely paths to facing felony charges but that’s the position its former treasurer finds himself in.

The charges against 46-year-old Jack Ryder stem from alleged embezzlement exceeding $100,000, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced Monday. Ryder is accused of withdrawing cash from the orchid-centered non-profit for personal use between 2015 and 2017.

For San Franciscans unaware of the Orchid Society‘s mission, let alone existence, it’s focused on the education around the “culture and appreciation of orchids.” Enthusiasts meet, pay dues, and can even ask a resident orchid doctor how to nurse the plant back to full health.

Ryder was elected as the Orchid Society’s treasurer in 2014 and was arraigned on Monday for multiple felony counts.

“Organizations like the San Francisco Orchid Society depend on charitable donations from the community,” Gascón said. “When their leaders steal from them, they betray the public’s trust and compromise the valuable services these organizations provide for the community.”

The case serves as a reminder, especially during a popular donation period leading up to the new year, to vet non-profits before donating. Charity Navigator rates such organizations to add a sense of accountability to the non-profit industrial complex.

While the Orchid Society didn’t make it to the navigator’s warning list or receive a score, popular groups like climate-change fighters 350.org have a perfect four-star rating. No doubt that the San Francisco’s orchid enthusiasts could have used a system like this the past couple of years.

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