JONESBORO, Ark. – A suspect is accused of taking upwards of $30,000 from indigent victims associated with United Cerebral Palsy – and the complaint said she kept the cash for herself.
The disturbing report begins when Jonesboro police were dispatched to United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas, 1817 Woodsprings Road in Jonesboro, shortly before 2 p.m. on February 1. JPD spoke with the manager, Vickie Romine, who said an employee, Amanda McQuay, 31, of Brookland, had been writing checks and keeping the cash.
One of the services offered to families for mentally and physically handicapped clients can be handling of personal business, including paying for groceries, clothes, rent and utilities. They write checks to the staff that care for the client so things can be purchased as needed. However, it was within these confines that UCP found conflicts.
An internal investigation showed $28,755.94 had been taken from as many as 33 victims, according to the report. Many of the victims were on social security. Check amounts reported to businesses were also often significantly less than what the checks were written for, the report said.
McQuay had been employed since October, 2015, and the report says the checks began shortly after her employment began. She was fired at the end of January, 2017, the report added.
Romine told police all money would be returned to clients by the UCP Cooperations. The company is seeking full restitution from McQuay, who may have made other transactions, the report indicated.
Police spoke with the suspect on Thursday, Feb. 2, and she agreed to speak with Detective Keri Varner the following day – but by the time the next day arrived, she was represented by an attorney.
McQuay faces a felony charge of theft of $25,000 or more. She was arrested Tuesday, taken before a judge, and released less than two hours later.
UCP released the following statement regarding McQuay’s arrest, Tuesday:
“Authorities in Jonesboro are investigating an alleged embezzlement from an account managed at the United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) office in Jonesboro. This alleged embezzlement does NOT in any way affect donations already gathered or pledges made to UCP Telethon held on January 29, 2017, by the UCP of Arkansas-Northeast Council.
No UCP Telethon funds are maintained at the Jonesboro UCP Office. In fact, the UCP Telethon is a distinct organization completely separate from the Jonesboro Office. All UCP Telethon funds and expenditures are handled through the Arkansas UCP office in Little Rock.
The UCP Northeast Council is made up of all volunteers who provide the leadership role for the telethon. After Telethon expenses, all donations go to fund equipment, services, and education for UCP clients.
Gary Wells, the chair of the UCP of Arkansas-Northeast Council said, “We thank the community for its support and the trust placed in the UCP Telethon Board to faithfully use the funds raised to make a positive difference in the lives of those with cerebral palsy.”
We deeply regret the unfortunate incident which apparently has occurred at the Jonesboro UCP Office. All questions about the investigation should be directed to the Jonesboro Police Department.”