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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 31, 2022

Woman Ordered to Pay More Than $4.65 Million for Stealing from Huntington Children’s Charity

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Chesapeake, Ohio, woman was ordered to pay more than $4.65 million today for stealing federal funds from River Valley Child Development Services (“RVCDS”), a non-profit organization located in Huntington. RVCDS provides programs, services, and support to children and families in the region.

Ruth Marie Phillips, also known as Marie Phillips, 69, previously pleaded guilty in September 2021 to stealing approximately $4,721,731 from RVCDS between December 2013 and August 2020. Phillips worked at RVCDS from December 1986 until September 2020, and held various positions at the non-profit organization, including Director of  Business and Finance.

 

United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers ordered the restitution, offsetting the $4.7 million figure by more than $71,000 already returned to RVCDS. To assist with restitution, Phillips also previously agreed to forfeit substantial assets, including: $601,638.77 in proceeds from the sale of six airplanes; $304,576.49 in proceeds from the sale of a lake house at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia that she bought during her scheme to defraud the non-profit; and $169,954.58 in proceeds from the sale of property in Randolph County. Phillips has also agreed to forfeit proceeds from the sale of her residence in Chesapeake, Ohio, and several vehicles, including a Lexus RX and a Chevrolet Corvette.

 

Chambers sentenced Phillips in January 2022 to seven years in federal prison. The court departed upward from the sentencing guidelines, noting that the guideline range failed to account for the substantial harm Phillips caused the non-profit in the community and the impact Phillips’ theft had on taxpayers. Phillips pleaded guilty to theft of federal funds in September 2021.

 

While Director of Business and Finance at RVCDS, Philips was responsible for all financial operations, including monitoring accounts receivable, creating and submitting invoices, reconciling bank accounts and issuing checks. From July 1, 2016, to on or about June 30, 2017, RVCDS received approximately $7,131,756 in federal funding and Phillips used her position of trust and authority to steal approximately $964,012 during that period.

 

Phillips further admitted that between December 2013 and August 2020, she stole approximately $4,721,731 from RVCDS.  During that period, she sent $1,142,500 to her personal checking account and sent another $3,395,500 to Attitude Aviation’s bank account.  Attitude Aviation has offices at Lawrence County Airpark in South Point, Ohio, and Tri-State Airport in Huntington and provides aeronautical services, including fueling, rental of hangar space, aircraft rental, flight instruction and maintenance.

 

U.S. Attorney Will Thompson announced the restitution order.

 

“Phillips did great harm to the children and families she should have been supporting,” Thompson said. “I commend our law enforcement partners and my staff for their pursuit of justice in this case.”

 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the West Virginia State Police, the Central West Virginia Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, the Lawrence County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office, and the Litigation Financial Analyst with the U.S. Attorney’s Office conducted the investigation.

 

United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Kristin F. Scott prosecuted the case. Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen Robeson is handling the forfeiture of Phillips’ many assets. Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Nathan of the United States Attorney’s Financial Litigation Unit organized restitution in this case.

 

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:21-cr-00135.

 

 

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Updated March 31, 2022