• Ex-Woodruff Arts employee accused of $1.44M theft


    The Woodruff Arts Center has confirmed a former employee is accused of stealing nearly $1.5 million from the foundation.

    Channel 2’s Richard Elliot went to a Tuesday morning news conference in midtown Atlanta where Woodruff officials announced the issue. The center’s CEO, Virginia Hepner, said it all began with “odd” invoices. After further investigation, $1.44 million in fraud was discovered, Hepner said.

    “It’s all appalling that this has happened,” she said.

    Hepner said the fraud was going on for five years. The employee is accused of submitting fraudulent invoices for payment. He was confronted about the issue and confessed, Hepner said. She said he resigned of his own volition in October.

    The employee was not named, but Hepner identified him as a mid-level administrative employee who wasn’t a member of the finance department. She believes he acted alone. The center has now turned over the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution.

    Hepner admitted there were not enough checks and balances in place to prevent the incident, but she said that’s already been changed.

    Hepner said the case hasn’t hurt the center’s $100 million budget, but officials hope it doesn’t hurt their fundraising campaign.

    “This is a community asset and our donors are our shareholders, and I think the first thing you acknowledge is that we have a problem and you be transparent with the problem,” Woodruff board chair Larry Gellerstedt said.


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