Update: WITN.com reported that authorities have identified the former Carteret County Humane Society director as Candace Christopherson.
According to a report issued by North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood, an N.C. animal shelter director spent more than $67,000 on 2,200 expenses allegedly not related to the shelter that formerly employed her.
An investigative report was issued Thursday by Wood for the Carteret County Humane Society and Animal Shelter stating the former director held back more than $44,000 in cash receipts instead of depositing them in the shelters bank account. Also being investigated are 2,243 purchases made on a shelter credit card over the past few years that had a $500 maximum limit. The credit card was issued to purchase medicine for the dogs and cats in their care.
Among the charges in the report are (and are copied and pasted straight from the investigative report linked above)
• Convenience store purchases totaling $15,617
The former Shelter Director purchased personal items including gas, cigarettes, cigars, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, sodas, candy, snacks, dairy products, and other general merchandise. According to a Shelter employee, the former Shelter Director was also seen purchasing fuel for a friend using the Shelter’s credit card.
• Questionable purchases at Walmart totaling $8,496
The former Shelter Director used the Sam’s Club credit card to purchase clothing, groceries, and baby supplies at Walmart. Purchases included New York strip steaks, baby back ribs, Visa gift cards, diapers, an Easy Bake Oven, capri pants, over-the-counter medications, and toiletries among other personal items.
• Questionable expenditures at restaurant and fast food establishments totaling $4,318
A review of the credit card expenditures revealed a total of 156 charges for meals over a 30-month period. Interviews with current and former Shelter employees and the former Shelter Director indicated that some of the meals were personal. In
addition, the former Shelter Director could not produce receipts or a documented business purpose for the majority of meal charges.
• Other Personal Expenditures
A review of the Shelter’s credit card statements showed that the former Shelter Director spent $11,343 on phone purchases and cellular services through Verizon and other carriers
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
o $6,529 for local car rentals from Avis and Enterprise and personal auto
o $5,995 for utilities, a storage rental unit, and temporary living arrangements including the Hostess House and Holiday Inn Express
o $3,200 for her children’s day care
o $3,000 for a down payment on a Chevrolet Traverse for her personal use
o $950 on entertainment including sporting goods, Xbox Live, Redbox, Netflix, online dating, movie tickets, and a WWE pay-per-view event o Four deposits to correctional facility inmate account(s) totaling $558
The Board Treasurer failed to maintain adequate oversight of the purchases made using the Shelter’s credit cards. For example, the Treasurer did not review the monthly credit card statements. The lack of review allowed the former Shelter Director to misuse the credit cards over an extended period for personal gain. When investigators asked the Treasurer if she had reviewed the credit card statements, she responded, “I just don’t have time to do that.” She added that she just tore off the bottom portion of the statement so she could pay the outstanding balance.
The former shelter director, who was the only one authorized to use the credit card, was unable to produce receipts or other documentation to show the purchases made were for the shelter.
The case is being referred to the District Attorney to determine whether charges should be filed. The North Carolina State Auditor has requested the Carteret County Humane Society and Animal Shelter board to seek reimbursement for personal or unnecessary credit card use and to attempt to recover the illegally used money.
Using the funds for personal and private use also violates North Carolina state laws §14-90. Embezzlement of property received by virtue of office or employment and §14-100. Obtaining property by false pretenses.
This is all money that could have been used to help the cats and dogs at the shelter. Instead, the former Shelter Director, who was solely responsible for the collection, recording, and deposit of cash, helped herself to the money. The shelter had no written policies in place as to addressing controls over cash or any other financial aspect of the Shelter’s operations.
It’s a shame the animals have to suffer due to the greed of humans. It’s also a shame the Board didn’t have time to inspect the receipts and simply paid the bill each month. Please download the report for MUCH more information on this investigation.