Two accused of stealing thousands from town non-profit
CLINTON - Clinton Police accused two women of racketeering and money laundering after they said they laundered tens of thousands of dollars in donations and grant money for personal use, instead of their intended use to improve the town.
Police arrested Carol Shirley, 66, and Alice Kent, 62, after a year-long investigation into their activities, which involved the Clinton Main Street Program and a non-profit called "Friends of Clinton Main Street" the two created. The women face nearly 200 counts of money laundering charges, along with other accusations.
Chief Eddie Stewart said the investigation was difficult for people living in the close-knit community.
"The mayor has had to endure threats and even had his wife's job threatened over the investigation. Our investigator has been the neighbor of one of the ladies for more than thirty years. I am in the same position as I know them and their husbands," he said. "But, we are a professional organization and we show no favoritism when we conduct investigations. We follow the truth we it leads us and do what the law requires of us."
Clinton Police said the State Treasurer's Office originally contacted them, saying they had found three grants between 2008 and 2012 worth a total of $65,235 weren't deposited into the Main Street program's account like they were supposed to.
Instead investigators said Shirley, who worked as the program's manager, created the "Friends of Clinton Main Street" non-profit with Kent and deposited the grant money there, along with dozens of other donations made by various organizations which they mixed in with public funds from the town's coffers, at one time totaling more than $107,000.
Police said Shirley collected the bulk of the money herself, while Kent received a smaller portion. Only 20 percent went to support two arts organizations in the area, the Louisiana Arts and Artist Guild - Feliciana Chapter and the Clinton Blueberry Festival, for prizes, travel and other costs.
During the investigation police seized four bank accounts connected to the programs, which only had a combined total of $4727.57 in them.
"I have known both of them for years and never would have thought that this would have been something I would have seen from either one of them," said Mayor Don Reason.
In all the women face the following charges: one count each for Racketeering, one count each for Theft in the amount of $65,235, one count each of Malfeasance in Office, six counts each of Public Contract Fraud, fifteen counts each of Filing or Maintaining False Public Records, and 196 counts each of Money Laundering.