Domestic violence shelter director pleads guilty to embezzlement - KCTV5

Domestic violence shelter director pleads guilty to embezzlement

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MARSHALL, MO (KCTV) -

A shelter helping women in their most desperate time of need was ripped off by the person they trusted the most.

It happened at the Lighthouse Shelter in Marshall, MO.

Deborah Wallace, 50, is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the domestic violence shelter where she worked as the executive director.

On Thursday, she admitted to that. Now, the domestic violence shelter where she worked is trying to get back on its feet financially.

Board members of the Lighthouse Shelter spoke candidly about the financial difficulties impacting their outreach and work with battered women.

The grants that funded the shelter were stalled during a theft and embezzlement investigation.

"So now we rely totally on donations until those grants, until everything has been reinstated," Lighthouse Shelter president Barbie Crisswell said.

Investigators say Wallace stole grant money and used the shelter's credit cards to pay for personal expenses.

That went on from 2008 until 2013. Crisswell says the shelter managed to stay afloat despite the drama and there was no interruption in payroll or in client services.

"Our staff has been great as far as staying with us and right now the hard times. And we continue with all services," Crisswell said.

As Wallace works out the terms of her plea with federal prosecutors, board members put a new policy in place to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"Any of our grants, our president overseas. Any checks, we're not allowed to have a rubber stamp for signatures anymore. It has to actually be in person," said Elizabeth Keehart, the shelter's vice president.

Even though Wallace pleaded guilty, the investigation is still ongoing.

Wallace could face up to 15 years in federal prison and be fined up to $500,000.

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