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Press Release

Former YWCA Childcare Director Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Stealing from Non-profit Employer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced a former YWCA childcare director to 15 months in prison for stealing nearly $200,000 from the non-profit over several years, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Michael Williams.

U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon sentenced RIKKI ROSS, 38, of Hoover, on one count of federal program fraud for stealing from an agency that received more than $10,000 in federal benefits annually between 2012 and 2017 through grants or other assistance. Ross pleaded guilty to the charge in April. She must report to prison Nov. 6.

The judge also ordered Ross to forfeit $198,597 to the government as proceeds of illegal activity, and to pay that same amount in restitution to the Young Women’s Christian Association of Central Alabama. Ross will remain on supervised release for three years following completion of her prison term.

“For 115 years, the YWCA has provided services to our community, including much needed childcare services for families in need. The parents trusted this defendant to provide a safe environment for their children,” Town said. “Ms. Ross betrayed the trust of the parents and the YWCA. Her deliberate theft from low-income working families and from a non-profit agency dedicated to helping young women and families in need is reprehensible. A federal prison cell awaits her.” 

“The defendant in this case was self-centered and egotistical to take advantage of the most vulnerable in our society,” Williams said. “It’s gratifying for law enforcement when we are able to investigate white-collar criminals and bring individuals like Ms. Ross to justice.”  

The YWCA of Central Alabama is a non-profit organization headquartered in Birmingham. The YWCA focuses on providing quality child development programs for children of homeless and working poor families, affordable housing, domestic violence services and social justice programming.

Ross worked as director of the YWCA Child Development Center from August 2010 until she resigned in 2017, according her plea agreement with the government.

As part of Ross’ job as the YWCA’s childcare director, she was responsible for processing credit and debit card payments from parents for childcare services. The YWCA CDC uses Square to process debit and credit card payments. Square is a point-of-sale provider that works in conjunction with the user’s smartphone or tablet device. The Square reader is a small removable magnetic stripe reader that plugs into the headset jack or Lightning port of a smartphone or tablet.

The YWCA CDC utilized a Square account named “YWCA Child Development Center.” The YWCA authorized Ross to use that account to process payments for childcare services provided at the YWCA. In April 2012, Ross created a Square account of her own and named it “YWCA CDC,” according to her plea. She linked the YWCA CDC account to her personal Regions Bank account.

Ross used the fraudulent Square account to charge parents and guardians for childcare services at the YWCA center, according to her plea. Between April 2012 and August 2017, Ross stole more than $190,000 intended as payment for childcare services at the YWCA.   

The Secret Service investigated the case in conjunction with the Birmingham Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Beardsley Mark prosecuted the case.


Updated September 6, 2018