Former United Way of Faulkner County Director Samantha Huseas-Pierce, 37, of 20 Amethyst St., Greenbrier, was arrested Friday afternoon and charged with forgery and credit card fraud, both class-C felonies, relating to unauthorized expenditures during her term as director.
Huseas-Pierce was released on her own recognizance after turning herself in at the Conway Police Department.
20th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Marcus Vaden said on Friday morning that he recommended these charges after reviewing the findings of a private audit and Conway Police Department investigation.
The audit was ordered by the local United Way board of directors after it was disclosed by the board on Oct. 1 that "unauthorized or undocumented expenditures" had occurred during Huseas-Pierce’s time as director. Huseas-Pierce resigned in September.
On Dec. 1, the United Way board accepted the findings of Little Rock CPA firm Hudson, Cisne and Co. LLP., and turned the findings over to the Conway Police Department. The findings of CPD’s investigation were turned over to the prosecutor’s office on Dec. 31.
"We have been working on the case for a while and determined that criminal activity did occur," Vaden said on Friday. "Count one (forgery) is that she did draw, complete or utter a check drawn on the account of United Way, who did not authorize that act, in the amount of $4,933 to Superior Auto Group. Count two (credit card fraud) involves purchases involving some personal items made using a United Way credit card."
Vaden said that there is still work to be done by both CPD investigators and his office to divide possibly illegal purchases from "issues such as where an employee may have simply gone beyond the scope of their employment ... for instance, if they bought a nicer and more expensive chair or desk than they were supposed to.
"I think we are trying to get the evidence that will clearly draw that line," Vaden said.
Vaden said he advised the board that he would expect restitution to be ordered in the amount of $15,000 to $20,000.
United Way of Faulkner County board chairperson Andrea Woods said on Friday that the board had not disagreed with authorities when it was proposed that Huseas-Pierce, who Vaden and CPD Detective Chris Mitchell said had cooperated fully with investigators, be released on her own recognizance if she would turn herself in.
"We did not disagree with that approach, and one of the reasons is that if any payments are made by Samantha they would be made to reimburse the United Way," Woods said.
"I don’t want to presume that there would be a finding of guilt, of course, but we would not want her to have to post bond," Woods added.
United Way board member Mark Vaught said on Friday that he was "glad that this is coming to a closure."
"The prosecuting attorney’s office and Conway Police Department have worked well with the board, and I think that the prosecutor’s office and police have come up with a method to get the restitution," Vaught said.
The board’s news release on the issue states that, "The United Way places full faith in the Prosecuting Attorney’s office and the Conway Police Department and will cooperate with the authorities relating to this matter.
"United Way looks forward to closing this chapter of its history and receiving restitution for its losses," the statement concludes.
(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached at 505-1238 or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)