Former Woodruff Arts Center Employee Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement
ATLANTA – Ralph Clark pleaded guilty today to embezzling more than $1.1 million from the Woodruff Arts Center while serving as Woodruff’s Director of Facilities.
“The Woodruff Arts Center is an important part of the fabric of our community,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “This defendant embezzled over $1 million from funds intended for the benefit of our citizens.”
“Mr. Clark chose to violate his position of trust at the Woodruff Arts Center,” stated Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office. “In addition, he violated federal law by attempting to profit through arrangements with various contracted vendors. The FBI will continue to provide assistance and investigative resources in such matters that negatively impact our non-profit, cultural institutions such as the Woodruff Arts Center.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In June 2006, Clark was promoted to Director of Facilities at the Woodruff Arts Center. He had been acting in this capacity for several months before he was promoted. His duties included ensuring that the Arts Center was properly maintained. As Director of Facilities, he was authorized to approve vendor contracts up to $50,000. While carrying out these duties between November 2005 and October 2012, Clark embezzled more than $1.1 million from the Woodruff Arts Center.
Clark embezzled the money by submitting invoices for bogus expenses to Woodruff Arts Center’s accounts payable department. The bogus invoices included invoices from his wife’s business – Lowe’s Services – which was an apartment cleaning business set up by his wife in 2003. The bogus Lowe’s Services invoices were for goods and services that were never provided to the Woodruff Arts Center, or were performed by Clark himself. After the accounts payable department received the invoice, they generated checks from their checking account at SunTrust Bank. Clark would then pick the checks up in person, and deposit them into accounts on which he had signatory authority.
Clark also defrauded the Woodruff Arts Center by requiring another vendor who provided maintenance services to pay him kickbacks based on inflated invoices. Clark told the vendor that in order for him to get future work he would have to inflate invoices Clark ultimately submitted to Woodruff Arts Center by 30%, and then give that 30% back to Clark.
Clark, 42, of Ellenwood, Ga., could receive a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. However, in determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
Sentencing is scheduled for August 7, 2013, at 2:30 p.m. before United States District Judge Julie E. Carnes.
This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Bernita B. Malloy is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.