Huntington non-profit employee accused of embezzling almost $5M of federal funds

West Virginia

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK)—On Thursday, Acting US Attorney Lisa G. Johnston announced that a criminal complaint charging 68-year-old Ruth Marie Phillips (known as Marie Phillips), of Chesapeake, Ohio, with theft of federal funds from River Valley Child Development Services (RVCDS) would be unsealed.

Authorities arrested Phillips today, and she appeared in federal court in Huntington.

RVCDS is a non-profit in Huntington that receives over $10,000 in federal funds as well as state funds each year to provide programs, services, and support to children, families, and the early childhood community.

A court affidavit said that Phillips worked as the Director of Business and Finance at RVCDS between December of 1986 and September of 2020, and, during that time, she was responsible for all financial operations, which included monitoring accounts receivable, creating and submitting invoices, reconciling bank accounts and issuing checks. 

The complaint alleges that Phillips opened a BB&T bank account under RVCDS’s name without permission in April of 2002, listing her home address on the account and using it to convert $4.72 million for her own use.

The complaint goes on to accuse Phillips of embezzling money for her personal use and to fund a company she owns with at least two other people: Attitude Aviation, a full-service fixed-base operator with offices at Lawrence County Airpark in South Point, Ohio, and at Tri-State Airport in Huntington, which is authorized to provide aeronautical services including fueling, rental of hangar space, aircraft rental, flight instruction, and maintenance.

If convicted, Phillips faces up to ten years in federal prison.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the West Virginia State Police are conducting the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Kristin F. Scott and Kathleen Robeson are handling the prosecution.

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