Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Executive Director Arrested For Alleged Embezzlement

The executive director at a Myrtle Beach, S.C. nonprofit was arrested on charges of embezzlement after a state investigation into whether the organization misused federal funds.

JoAnne Patterson, executive director of Citizens Against Spousal Abuse (CASA), was charged with embezzlement of public funds greater than $5,000 according to a report in The Sun News. Patterson denies the allegations, and CASA board chairwoman Sissy Rutherford told The Sun News that, while the $32,000 grant wasn't used for its expressed purpose (purchasing vans to transport victims), there was nothing criminal about the organization's actions. She explained that the money was used so they could pay employees and keep the organization running. Rutherford blamed the organization's problems on the financial downturn.

Former assistant director Alicia Rahiem disagreed with that assessment, saying that employees at CASA had been concerned for a while about how money was being spent. She accused board members of not paying enough attention. CASA eventually purchased the vans after officials began questioning, and Rahiem said she was told to lie about how long they had owned them when asked by investigators.

While the state investigation continues, many of CASA's largest contributors are withholding funding until the the matter is resolved. That includes the city of Myrtle Beach, which had given the organization between $40,000 and $50,000 per year since 2007. The City Council said in a statement that no more money would be given until new board members were elected. Most of the current board has already made plans to step aside to make room for a replacement organization that would fill the gap in services left by CASA.

To read the full story, head on over to The Sun News' website.

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