Probation for Five Rivers executive, guilty of stealing from nonprofit, could be revoked for failing to pay more than $30,000 in restitution

dwren@thesunnews.comMarch 19, 2014 

  • THE CHARGES

    Beulah White and Dayo White, executives with the Five Rivers nonprofit agency, each pleaded guilty to one felony charge of criminal conspiracy in March 2009 in Georgetown. Their other crimes:

    • Beulah White took $3,500 in public money from the nonprofit agency she ran and gave it to a friend. The charge was felony embezzlement.

    • Beulah White used the nonprofit’s credit card to buy at least $5,000 worth of personal items. The charge was felony breach of trust with fraudulent intent.

    • Dayo White used the nonprofit’s credit card to buy $9,355.87 worth of personal items, including jewelry, a high-definition television and clothing. The charge was felony breach of trust with fraudulent intent.

    • Dayo White wrote 13 checks to herself totaling $42,900 from the nonprofit’s bank account. When the canceled check came back to the nonprofit, Dayo White altered the payee and memo lines to make it appear the check had been written to a legitimate vendor. She then forwarded the altered checks to the agency’s accountant. The charge was felony breach of trust with fraudulent intent.

A probation revocation hearing Thursday in Georgetown could determine whether Dayo White – the former chief financial officer of Five Rivers Community Development Corp. – will be headed to prison for failing to pay restitution for money she illegally took from the nonprofit agency.

White and her mother, Beulah White, pleaded guilty in March 2009 to a combined six felony charges related to their theft of public money from Five Rivers, which was supposed to help low-income people find jobs and buy homes. Both women were given five-year suspended prison sentences and placed on probation for a five-year period. They also were ordered to pay a combined $65,617.17 in restitution, including interest.

Beulah White, the nonprofit agency’s executive director, repaid the $3,500 she owed and her probation expired this week.

Dayo White, however, still owes $31,146 – about half of the $62,117.17 she was ordered to repay five years ago.

Judge Steven John will preside over Thursday’s hearing, in which state probation officials will present Dayo White’s financial information – including her income and expenditures – and recommend that her probation be revoked.

If John finds that Dayo White’s failure to make full restitution is willful, he could send her to prison for an unspecified time. If John finds that she has failed to make payments because of circumstances beyond her control, he could extend the amount of time she has to repay the full amount.

John also could convert the remaining money Dayo White owes to a civil judgment. If that happens, Dayo White’s criminal case would be closed and the state’s probation office would no longer have any oversight of her payments. A civil judgment could hurt Dayo White’s credit rating, but it would be up to the Internal Revenue Service – the agency being paid restitution – to determine whether any further collection efforts will be made.

This will be the second time Dayo White’s probation has been considered for revocation. In 2012, the state’s probation office asked John to revoke her probation because she was not making payments. John ruled during that hearing that her failure to make payments was not willful because Dayo White was unemployed.

Dayo White in 2009 pleaded guilty to two charges of breach of trust and one charge of criminal conspiracy. Beulah White pleaded guilty to breach of trust, embezzlement and criminal conspiracy. The S.C. Attorney General’s office dropped nine additional felony charges against the women in exchange for the guilty pleas.

Five Rivers – which was located on Front Street in Georgetown – went out of business in 2006 after an investigation by The Sun News showed the Whites misspent public money on travel, Christmas bonuses, meals, shopping trips and other benefits for themselves, family members and friends. That investigation also showed that Fiver Rivers’ board of directors, hand-picked by Beulah White, provided little oversight of how the nonprofit agency was run or how its money was spent.

The $65,617.17 in restitution the Whites were ordered to pay amounts to a little more than 1 percent of the $5 million Five Rivers received in state and federal grants and other funds during its 10-year history.

In addition to the criminal charges, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ruled in 2006 that the Whites had misspent $418,180 from a federal grant that was supposed to help build a community center for low-income residents. Although HUD ordered the Whites to repay the money, the women never did and the federal agency did not pursue repayment in court. The community center was never built.

Contact DAVID WREN at 626-0281.

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