EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSBOARD RESPONDS
from Eyewitness News Online
Huntington Area Food Bank Responds To Embezzlement Charge
Reported by: Darrah Wilcox
Web Producer: Darrah Wilcox
Reported: Jan. 22, 2013 4:43 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 23, 2013 9:06 AM EST
Huntington , Cabell County , West Virginia
Days after the former executive director of the Huntington Area Food Bank was arrested on embezzlement charges, the current administration is speaking out.
State Police arrested former executive director Leigh Anne Zappin Friday night on eight counts each of forgery and uttering and one count of embezzlement.
Zappin started at the food bank in 2008 as part of community service for a prior embezzlement plea agreement. She was promoted to executive director in fall 2010 and resigned in late September 2012. An indictment alleges she took about $24,000 from January to September 2012.
Board members said they knew of Zappin's two prior embezzlement arrests, but stood by their decision to hire her. "We had recommendations from folks out there who thought she'd been rehabilitated. Her likelihood of ever doing something again was very minimal," Board President Stanley Mills said.
Mills said many systems were put in place to ensure she would not be handling money, but they are now taking even stricter measures to prevent it from ever happening again. He said someone at the food bank first noticed the money missing in September 2012. Zappin said she would resign after being confronted about the missing funds.
Interim Executive Director Tiffany Tatum is a certified public accountant and told Eyewitness News she has worked with nonprofit organizations for about a decade. She is helping compile a comprehensive accounting polices and procedures manual for future staff to follow. Some of the measures include having no less than three people touch each donation that comes in the mail, and segregating as many duties as possible. There also will be a paper trail for all donations earmarked for specific food bank projects.
"The board and the staff are working every day to improve our policies and procedures because ultimately the goal here is to fulfill our mission which is to feed hungry people," Tatum said.
Mills said he believes food bank officials are doing the right things and "we just want to get that credibility back."
The food bank does have liability insurance that is expected to cover lost funds.
The pantry distributed about a million pounds of food in the last quarter of 2012.
Zappin is expected in court next month. She is being held on a $100,000 cash-only bond at the Western Regional Jail.
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