CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A former chief financial officer at Crisis Ministries is now facing federal charges of embezzling more than $440,000.
According to court documents, Carol Libby is accused of defrauding the homeless shelter from 2006 through 2013.
The indictment states Libby “generated more than 400 unauthorized business checks” which she made payable to vendors that deal with the organization. She reportedly then forged the names of those vendors and wrote her own bank account number on the back of the checks so she could deposit the money into her account.
The federal charges state Libby transferred money over state lines using ATM machines and wire transfers. Libby was first accused of stealing money from Crisis Ministries last summer when police charged her with breach of trust with fraudulent intent.
“To say last June we knew it would be $440,000, we certainly did not,” said CEO Stacy Denaux, who admits it’s a blow that a former trusted leader is accused of stealing money from the organization. “A series of crimes were committed over a seven-year period. So relatively small transactions over a long period of time obviously add up to a very large number.”
He and Denaux say $250,000 has been recovered so far, but a statement on the organization’s website says a little more than $100,000 has been repaid through insurance and restitution.
“A thorough investigation has revealed the extent of the theft is much greater than originally uncovered. Libby is charged with fraudulently obtaining more than $440,000 from the organization over a period of seven years. Publicly available documents indicate she is being charged with five counts of wire fraud,” the statement reads.
The statement goes on to say that current leaders are still baffled by Libby’s alleged actions.
“Like many of our supporters, we are struggling to understand how a person can steal from an organization dedicated to serving those living in extreme poverty. The reality is this was a sophisticated manipulation of financial statements masterminded by someone who apparently was willing and determined to steal from the organization,” it reads.
The statement ends with an assurance that Crisis Ministries’ programs and services were not compromised by the fraud.
Paul Kohleim says since the allegations were discovered, an outside company was hired to begin monitoring all financial transactions.
“We are working at all possibly avenues to recover lost funds,” he said. “We’re glad to see that this case is moving forward so that we can eventually put it behind us and move on.”
Libby worked for Crisis Ministries for about 10 years.