A former official at Harbor Inc. in Smithfield, a non-profit agency that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, has been indicted by a Johnston County Grand Jury on embezzlement and obstruction charges.
Rhonda Lynn Miles, 39, of Parkside Village Drive, Clayton was indicted Monday on several felony charges related to the alleged theft of more than $19,000 and for obstruction of justice.
In February 2016, Miles was hired as Director of Operations and entrusted to pay bills, assist with fundraisers and grants, and maintain financial records. When an employee left later that year, Harbor assigned most of its fiscal management duties to Miles. Afterwards and without approval, Miles modified procedures to make payments on credit card accounts no longer requiring two-signature checks and backup documentation.
Using a Harbor credit card she was told to cancel but never did, Miles allegedly used the card to purchase items for herself from Amazon, Walmart, Young Living Oils, eBay, LuLaRoe, Norwex, Etsy stores, Perfectly Posh, Younique, and other retailers.
Additionally, Miles used the Harbor checking account to make electronic and online payments to her personal accounts at Lowe’s, Capital One, Discover, Comenity, and Chase.
Altogether, during her 16-months as Director of Operations, Mrs. Miles allegedly embezzled just over $19,000 in funds from the organization. She was also indicted for obstruction of justice for failing to return a laptop computer issued to her by Harbor that contained accounting files, which prevented other officials from accessing the financial records.
Miles resigned from Harbor on August 27, 2017 but not before she alleged deleted numerous files and emails on the laptop computer in an attempt to conceal the financial thefts. On the date of her resignation, she changed the contact email address for the credit card to her personal email address, in an alleged attempt to conceal the embezzlement. Following her resignation, she made small monthly payments on the credit card account to prevent Harbor from knowing the credit card remained active.
Harbor hired a Raleigh-based certified public accountant to reconstruct its missing QuickBooks financial records. Harbor had to pay over $80,000 for the CPA’s services to repair the damages and retrieve their financial records.
The Grand Jury indictments include charges of embezzlement by a local or charitable officer or employee, embezzlement, malfeasance of a corporate officer, and obstruction of justice. The investigation into the theft was conducted by the NC State Bureau of Investigation.
“The leaders and supporters of Harbor remain shocked and disappointed after the recent indictment of our former employee, but the actions of the grand jury have reassured us that justice will prevail for the victims of domestic violence whom we serve,” Harbor’s attorney Lamar Armstrong Jr. said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“Our organization had financial safeguards and monitoring in place, but this person knew how to circumvent them and took advantage. Executive Director Kay Johnson noticed the anomalies and immediately notified Harbor’s board members and took steps and, for the past year and a half, worked with authorities as they investigated, charged, and arrested Rhonda Miles.”
“As Johnston County’s only non-profit agency providing support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, Harbor has weathered many a storm, sometimes literally. Kay Johnson had just successfully brought Harbor back on its feet after the devastating Hurricane Matthew flooding at the new shelter, when she was suddenly submerged again in this nightmarish betrayal,” Mr. Armstrong said.
“Those who steal from charity must be held responsible – especially in this case, where it was equivalent to stealing from women and children in crisis,” said Johnson, who despite the betrayal has vowed to remain compassionate. “To the gracious supporters who have stood by our mission during this difficult ordeal, we want you to know, we deeply appreciate the continued support of Harbor’s donors. We’re confident our team of highly-credentialed and experienced staff and volunteers will continue to provide support and safe haven to more than 3,000 women and children in need every year.”
Rhonda Miles was arrested on the felony charges this morning (Tuesday) and held in the Johnston County Jail under a $100,000 bond.