Former president of Lebanon arts council accused of stealing thousands from organization

Prosecutors say she started stealing after the organization’s treasurer resigned in 2018
Updated: Jul. 15, 2019 at 8:49 PM EDT
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LEBANON, Ohio (FOX19) - The former president of the Arts Council of Lebanon is facing criminal charges after she -- according to prosecutors -- stole thousands from the organization.

A grand jury recently indicted Rochelle Collins on theft charges. She is the former director of the Arts Council of Lebanon, which is described as a nonprofit on Facebook.

The council’s social media site is full of photos and videos that showcase adult art workshops, children’s classes, and fundraisers. Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said that behind the scenes, Collins was pocketing a chunk of change.

“You don’t know which one of these organizations is doing it and which one isn’t until one of these employees gets caught stealing from the cookie jar," said Fornshell.

Prosecutors say she started stealing after the organization’s treasurer resigned in 2018.

“Basically, the beginning of 2018 forward, Ms. Collins had exclusive access and control over the financial documents, the bank accounts, the organization’s credit card, debit card I should say," Fornshell said.

Prosecutors believe Collins stole at least $6,800 from the arts council through ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases.

“Places like Kroger, Whole Foods, UDF, just every day consumer transactions," said Fornshell.

Fornshell said that these cases are not unheard of as they get about one a year. His office offers a training session for non-profits that teaches people how to prevent this kind of theft. Fornshell said two of the recommendations they make are:

  • always have more than one person handling the money,
  • and do not give out organizational credit cards.

Instead, Fornshell said, have people use their own and keep receipts for reimbursement.

“Had those been implemented in this particular case, it could’ve been prevented," said Fornshell.

In a March Facebook post, Collins said that she was leaving her position because she was working 30 to 35 hours a week “without steady pay, if any pay at all.”

As of today, the art council is listed as “permanently closed” online.

“It’s going to be a long time for them to build up, if at all, their reputation back in the community and build that trust," said Fornshell.

FOX19 NOW did reach out to Collins who said she will not be commenting at this time. Lebanon officials, like the mayor, who worked with the arts council, declined to comment until after Collins’ arraignment in August.

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