Former executive director of JCCEO program indicted on public co - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

US Attorney: Former executive director of JCCEO program used federal funds as 'personal piggy bank'

Posted: Updated:
Gayle Cunningham, the former executive director of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, has been indicted on a theft from a federally funded program charge. (abc3340.com) Gayle Cunningham, the former executive director of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, has been indicted on a theft from a federally funded program charge. (abc3340.com)

Ruth Gayle Cunningham, the former executive director of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, has been indicted on a theft charge, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance announced today.

Cunningham, 63, who resigned from her position in March, is accused of stealing from a federally funded program between March 2009 and August 2010 and using the money to make monthly mortgage payments on at least three residential properties she owned and at least five residential properties her daughter, 31-year-old Kelli Caulfield, owned in Jefferson and Shelby Counties.

"Cunningham abused the trust and discretion she was given to use this money wisely to benefit those in our community who are struggling," Vance said in a release. "She used the agency's government funds as a personal piggy bank so that she and her daughter could line their pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars intended to lift others out of poverty."

US Attorney Joyce White Vance announcing the charges against Gayle Cunningham and Kelli Caulfield on Friday, August 2, 2013. (abc3340.com)

Read the complete release from US Attorney Joyce White Vance here.

Caulfield has been charged with conspiracy to defraud a federally funded program.

ABC 33/40 reporter Haley Westbrook has learned both women have signed agreements to plead guilty to the charges and repay $492,195 to the JCCEO.

According to Cunningham's plea agreement, she admitted to using JCCEO funds to pay property taxes on a house she bought in Chelsea in 2007 using a mortgage loan in excess of $1 million. She also acknowledged $293,413 in JCCEO funds paid to her daughter and other contractors for repairs at both women's properties.

Caulfield admitted in her plea that she created invoices, all of which were less than $5,000, for the repair work and gave them to her mother, who then submitted check requests to the JCCEO finance director.

The amount of the invoices Caulfield submitted allowed her mother, who as the executive director possessed the authority to sign checks less than $5,000, to funnel the money to her without having to get a second signature from a JCCEO board member.

The non-profit organization released a statement regarding today's announcement saying despite the amount of money stolen, a small fraction of the overall budget, it is committed to ensuring every dollar received is accounted for and properly used.

"Since learning of the investigation on this matter in March of this year, the JCCEO Board of Directors has worked closely with federal investigators to provide a comprehensive look at any and all inappropriate spending," JCCEO Board Chair Rev. T.L. Lewis said in a release. "While the funding in question represents less than 1.5 percent of the organization's overall budget, the JCCEO Board of Directors is deeply committed to rooting out any problems that have existed in JCCEO's finances and ensuring that every dollar this organization administrates is used in the most efficient way to provide services that strengthen Jefferson County, Alabama and the children and families we serve."

Read the complete release from JCCEO here.

Cunningham faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, including a fine of up to $250,000, for her charge of theft from a federally funded program. But as part of her plea agreement, she faces a maximum prison sentence of 37 months.

Caulfield could be sentenced up to two years in prison for her conspiracy charge, according to her plea.

Get the latest on this story on Focus@4 and the news at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. You can watch the newscasts live online here.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Monday, September 15 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:50:27 GMT
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
  • Griffith says he will give up salary like Bentley if elected

    Griffith says he will give up salary like Bentley if elected

    Monday, September 15 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-09-15 19:28:31 GMT
    Democrat Parker Griffith says he will give up his salary if elected governor and redirect the money to public education.More >>
    Democrat Parker Griffith says he will give up his salary if elected governor and redirect the money to public education.More >>
  • Bentley creates Small Business Commission

    Bentley creates Small Business Commission

    Monday, September 15 2014 2:28 PM EDT2014-09-15 18:28:05 GMT
    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is creating a commission to recommend ways the state can help small businesses get started and expand.More >>
    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is creating a commission to recommend ways the state can help small businesses get started and expand.More >>
  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Monday, September 15 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:50:27 GMT
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
  • EPA training sessions in Birmingham to combat pollution

    EPA training sessions in Birmingham to combat pollution

    Monday, September 15 2014 2:11 PM EDT2014-09-15 18:11:14 GMT
    The Environmental Protection Agency will host a Clean Air Act Rulemaking and Permitting training session September 16-17, 2014.More >>
    The Environmental Protection Agency will host a Clean Air Act Rulemaking and Permitting training session September 16-17, 2014.More >>
  • 16th Street Baptist Church remembers bombing anniversary

    16th Street Baptist Church remembers bombing anniversary

    Monday, September 15 2014 1:50 PM EDT2014-09-15 17:50:20 GMT
    September 15th marks a tragic event in our city and nation's history that galvanized the civil rights movement.16th Street Baptist Church commemorated the 51st anniversary of the bombing that killed four little girls.A ceremony started at the same time Sunday school began on that horrible day.Bells rang at 10:22.. the estimated time the blast killed Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson.Pastor Arthur Price said their death empowered everyone to strive for a bet...More >>
    September 15th marks a tragic event in our city and nation's history that galvanized the civil rights movement.16th Street Baptist Church commemorated the 51st anniversary of the bombing that killed four little girls.A ceremony started at the same time Sunday school began on that horrible day.Bells rang at 10:22.. the estimated time the blast killed Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson.Pastor Arthur Price said their death empowered everyone to strive for a bet...More >>
  • Tuscaloosa Area NewsMore>>

  • Blake Sims leads Alabama to 52-12 win over Southern Miss

    Blake Sims leads Alabama to 52-12 win over Southern Miss

    Saturday, September 13 2014 11:25 PM EDT2014-09-14 03:25:34 GMT
    Blake Sims passed for two touchdowns and rushed for a third in three quarters and might have staked his claim as No. 3 Alabama's undisputed starting quarterback in a 52-12 victory over Southern Miss on Saturday night.More >>
    Blake Sims passed for two touchdowns and rushed for a third in three quarters and might have staked his claim as No. 3 Alabama's undisputed starting quarterback in a 52-12 victory over Southern Miss on Saturday night.
    More >>
  • See Alabama 9-12: Camp Aliceville

    See Alabama 9-12: Camp Aliceville

    See Alabama features Camp Aliceville, which is said to house the largest collection of World War II POW memorabilia in the United States.More >>
    See Alabama features Camp Aliceville, which is said to house the largest collection of World War II POW memorabilia in the United States.More >>
  • 4 UA students facing assault charges in on-campus beating

    4 UA students facing assault charges in on-campus beating

    Thursday, September 11 2014 1:47 PM EDT2014-09-11 17:47:50 GMT
    Authorities say four University of Alabama students are facing charges after another student was attacked and badly beaten at a campus dormitory.More >>
    Authorities say four University of Alabama students are facing charges after another student was attacked and badly beaten at a campus dormitory.
    More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...