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Nonprofit's future uncertain following theft

Stolen 30K threatens agency's funding

Posted: June 20, 2014 - 1:57pm

A local nonprofit agency is still dealing with the fallout of an employee allegedly stealing more than $30,000.

The board of the Faulkner County Council on Developmental Disabilities fired former executive director Reva “Rennia” Johnston after an employee reported she was embezzling money. An internal audit found forged checks, and a police investigation found overpayments on Johnston’s paychecks.

The FCCDD was formed to coordinate services in the county to help people with developmental disabilities find employment, to support them in that employment and also to provide transportation for people with developmental disabilities, according to Treasurer Jackie Fliss. The agency also provides job coaching and services to keep its consumers in place if they go through a rough patch at their job.

“I consider it a very valuable service. A number of (Independent Living Services) consumers have been placed in jobs through FCCDD,” said Fliss, who also serves as executive director of ILS.

The small nonprofit agency has an annual budget of about $200,000, 70 to 75 percent of which is funded by Arkansas Rehabilitation Services, Fliss said. Upon discovering the missing funds, the board was forced to report itself to all its funding agencies.

“The United Way did not fund the agency this time,” Fliss said. “We called them right away. We didn’t even know the total amount. We just told them there was a problem. We reported ourselves to everybody.”

The board is waiting to learn whether Arkansas Rehabilitation Services will fund the organization for the coming fiscal year. If not, the board could face having to close the agency’s doors.

“A cut in funding equals a cut in services somewhere, even if we keep the agency open,” Fliss said. “If we don’t have any funding coming in, we’ll have to shut it down.”

So far the board has taken over operations and moved the agency from its location at the United Services Center on Museum Road to the ILS building on Robins Street.

“We’re trying to cut expenses and keep the program going,” Fliss said. “If we can make it to the end of the year, at the end of the year we can determine what the short-term and the long-term plans are.”

As for how $30,000 went missing without the board noticing sooner, Fliss said, “By virtue of her forging our signatures, we weren’t issuing the checks she was writing to herself. The checks were never going through us. We met regularly and were doing our duties as board members. We had a system of internal controls that she circumvented with her forgeries. She had a very good scheme going on. There’s a lot more than just signing checks that I can’t get into because of the police (investigation).”

Johnston is scheduled to appear in Faulkner County Circuit Court at 9 a.m. June 30.

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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reader 06/20/14 - 03:35 pm
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Such a shame

Hopefully some generous philanthropist will see the need to help them.

ucantbserious
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ucantbserious 06/20/14 - 09:01 pm
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Agreed

But sadly, scandal can result in donors being reluctant to contribute. IMHO, that makes embezzlement from a non-profit that much more heinous. Not only are you hurting what the organization can do now but you are gambling with their future prospects. No pun intended.

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