Woman sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing millions in federal funds from Huntington Children’s Charity | USAO-SDWV


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A woman from Chesapeake, Ohio, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for stealing federal funds from River Valley Child Development Services (“RVCDS”), a nonprofit organization located in Huntington . RVCDS provides programs, services and support to local children and families.

Ruth Marie Phillips, also known as Marie Phillips, 69, worked at RVCDS from December 1986 to September 2020 and held various positions within the non-profit organization. Phillips served as Director of Business and Finance and was responsible for all financial operations including tracking accounts receivable, creating and submitting invoices, reconciling bank accounts and issuing checks. From July 1, 2016 to or around June 30, 2017, RVCDS received approximately $7,131,756 in federal funding and Phillips used his position of trust and authority to steal approximately $964,012 during that time.

Phillips further admitted that between December 2013 and August 2020, she stole approximately $4,721,731 from RVCDS. During this period, she sent $1,142,500 to her personal checking account and sent an additional $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 aviation services including refueling, hangar space rental, aircraft rental aircraft, flight instruction and maintenance.

In sentencing Phillips, the Court departed from the sentencing guidelines, noting that the range of the guidelines did not take into account the substantial harm Phillips caused to the nonprofit organization in the community and the impact of Phillips theft on taxpayers.

To help with restitution, Phillips agreed to forfeit significant assets, including $304,576.49 in proceeds from the sale of a lakefront home in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia that she purchased during her scheme to defraud the nonprofit organization, $169,954.58 in proceeds from the sale of Randolph County property, $322,288.50 from the sale of two airplanes, his Chesapeake, Ohio residence, several vehicles including a Lexus RX and a Chevrolet Corvette, and four additional planes expected to be sold soon. As of the sentencing date, Phillips has lost approximately $868,561.44, which both parties plan to apply to his ultimate restitution debt. The total amount of restitution will be determined at a hearing on April 4, 2022.

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

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, West Virginia State Police, West Virginia Central Drugs and Violent Crimes Task Force, Lawrence County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office and the Financial Litigation Analyst for the US Attorney’s Office led 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 handles the confiscation of Phillips’ many assets.

A copy of this press release can be found on the website of the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Court documents and related information can be found on PACER by searching for Case #1. 3:21-cr-00135.

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