Charges filed against former Boys and Girls Club director

After a five-month investigation, former Lebanon Area Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Leah A. Pickens, 50, Lebanon, has been charged with four counts of theft and seven counts of counterfeiting.

A warrant out of Boone Circuit Court was issued for Pickens’ arrest earlier this week.

Pickens turned herself in at the Boone County Jail on Tuesday afternoon and immediately bonded out. Her initial hearing is set for May 3.

The Lebanon Police Department had been working with the club after Lee Humphrey, president of the club’s board of directors, reported financial discrepancies to police on Nov. 13.

Humphrey turned over all financial records after board members discovered numerous purchases made without board approval and some with forged signatures of some of the board members.

“I found something that made me question things,” Humphrey said. “We noticed that she had been spending on our behalf, and we turned it over to the police.”

Humphrey feared $130,000 was stolen from the club during Pickens’ tenure as executive director from 2015 to her resignation in October of 2017. She had for the previous four months declined to meet with accountants to do routine monthly account reconciliation, according to court records.

LPD Detective Jeff Nelson’s investigation accounted for net total of $37,967.25 in fraudulent spending. An original total of $40,966.81 in fraudulent spending was offset by $4,028.36 spent from Pickens’ personal account that was determined by staff to be for club purposes, court documents detail.

Thousands of dollars are still unaccounted for, Nelson reported, but investigators were unable to find conclusive evidence. Authorities say some receipts were altered, some records were deleted from Pickens’ computer upon her termination and detectives could not locate all receipts linked to questionable purchases.

Police found 34 items that were accounted for on receipts Pickens kept in her home on Citation Circle. Those items represent a little more than half of the purchases made for personal gain, police reported.

A few confiscated items include a nail dryer, four Michael Kors purses, a luggage rack, a vacuum, a trailer hitch assembly and a meat smoker. Some items could not be confiscated, including kitchen and bathroom cabinets, counter tops and a dishwasher.

Pickens was hired in February 2015 to replace Angie Veatch, who left in July 2014 after the board decided it wanted new leadership, according to a previous Lebanon Reporter story. At that time the club faced serious financial difficulties and had to raise $60,000 to make it through the end of the year.

Pickens was the former membership coordinator for the club and had worked as the children’s ministry director at Eagle Church before that.

Her attorney, Dorie Maryann of Indianapolis, declined comment on the case Wednesday.

Jean Hawkins, the club’s administrative director, said that with new events, programs and fundraisers happening all the time, club officials are focused on serving the public and using donor dollars wisely.

“Things are really looking up,” Hawkins said. “As the courts do their job, we are focusing on the kids.”

Since the missing money came from discretionary funds, Humphrey said the club was able to keep about 90 percent of its funding intact. He said discretionary spending only makes up about 10 percent of the club’s budget.

A theft insurance claim could cover some of the missing money if Pickens is convicted, Humphrey added.

He said local donors, along with the national Boys and Girls Club organization and United Way, have stepped up to help the club get back on track.

“This is having no effect on our current organization,” Humphrey said. “We are doing about as well as any non-profit can be right now.”

Follow reporter Leeann Doerflein on Twitter @LeeannReporting for breaking news about Lebanon and Boone County.

Source: http://www.reporter.net/news/local_news/charges-filed-against-former-boys-and-girls-club-director/article_62852e40-c1f1-54ca-a401-219d30e5467b.html