Charity Director Accused of Theft Was Convicted of Similar Crime

By Michael Klazema on 8/30/2012

A Spartanburg, South Carolina charity that provides services to low-income residents is now looking at nearly $40,000 less in their funds to help the needy. Former director of TOTAL Ministries, Karen Bradley, was arrested on charges that she stole from the charity. After her arrest, it was discovered that she also committed a similar crime about 13 years ago. Bradley admitted to stealing $11,000 from a Mobile Alabama non-profit in 1999. Bradley acted as the executive director for TOTAL Ministries from July 2010 until March 2012, at which time she was fired. When Bradley began working for the charity, they were not performing background checks on potential employees.

In 1998, Bradley was working for the Mobile Arts and Sports Association (MASA) as a ticket manager for a charity football event known as the Senior Bowl. MASA said they have donated millions of dollars to charities in the community since 1951. An audit revealed the non-profit was missing thousands of dollars from the time Bradley was employed with them. She was later arrested and in 1999 pleaded guilty to stealing $11,000, receiving a one year suspended sentence. This time, Bradley stands accused of allocating nearly $40,000 of TOTAL Ministries’ funds for personal use. She also used the charity’s credit card for purchasing groceries, personal electronics, meals, and more. After receiving information that there was a problem with the books, the board of directors fired Bradley.

Now, TOTAL Ministries faces a possible fine from the South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office for making false statements. All non-profits in the state are required to register with the office to solicit forms, and must vow on the form that none of their directors or board members has committed any crimes against a charitable organization in the U.S. Since the charity failed to perform a background check on Bradley, they said no. Mark Hammond, S.C. Secretary of State, is asking TOTAL why they would check no to the question without checking the backgrounds of their employees. TOTAL’s interim director, Traci Kennedy, said she was unaware of Bradley’s criminal past, and going forward they will perform background checks on all of their employees. Bradley has been charged with fraud and is currently awaiting sentencing.

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