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Justice News

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

Monday, January 24, 2022

Woman Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Stealing Millions in Federal Funds from Huntington Children's Charity

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Chesapeake, Ohio, woman was sentenced to seven years in federal prison 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, worked at RVCDS from December 1986 until September 2020 and held various positions at the non-profit organization. Phillips served as Director of Business and Finance and 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.

In sentencing Phillips, 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.

To assist with restitution, Phillips has agreed to forfeit substantial assets, including $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, $169,954.58 in proceeds from the sale of a Randolph County property, $322,288.50 in proceeds from the sale of two airplanes, her Chesapeake, Ohio, residence, several vehicles including a Lexus RX and a Chevrolet Corvette, and four additional airplanes that are anticipated to sell soon. As of the date of sentencing, Phillips has forfeited approximately $868,561.44, which both parties anticipate applying to her ultimate restitution debt. The full amount of restitution will be determined at a hearing on April 4, 2022.

“Phillips stole millions of dollars meant for families and children in the Huntington area for her own personal use.  It doesn’t get much worse than stealing from children,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson.  “I am thankful for the work of our law enforcement partners and my staff which resulted in a substantial sentence for Phillips and ensured that she will pay restitution to the nonprofit.”   

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.

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.




Updated January 24, 2022