Authorities charged a man with embezzling more than $60,000 from a local charity focused on child welfare.
Chris Kimes, while serving as the director of political affairs of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, spent nearly $63,000 from the nonprofit’s account, according to a report from WCHS-TV, which was verified through Jennifer Wells, the current executive director of the organization. He ran the purchases through his romantic partner’s PayPal.
The first purchase occurred in July 2016, the most recent in December 2018.
WVHKFC discovered the alleged embezzlement in a January audit. Kimes was then fired, and the nonprofit turned over its findings to the Charleston Police Department.
Wells said she did not know exactly what kind of purchases Kimes made. She said he was dismissed without incident.
In 2016, WVHKFC brought in more than $1 million in revenue and spent about $962,000, leaving it with about $400,000 in the bank at year’s end, according to the most recently available tax filings.
Before Wells took over, Stephen Smith served as the organization’s executive director, although he was on sabbatical between October 2017 and March 2018.
Smith, who is now in the midst of a gubernatorial campaign, said in an email that his heart goes out to the coalition’s staff, board and community partners, who “do not deserve this distraction from their crucial work to make West Virginia a more just and generous place.”
“Every year during my tenure, we received a clean audit from an outside accounting firm,” Smith wrote. “Before I stepped down in fall 2018, we hired outside consultants to conduct an additional financial assessment of the organization — working with our senior staff and accountants. The assessment raised no red flags. Given our track record, and this series of rigorous reviews from outside auditors, I was shocked when I first learned of this in January of this year.
“Almost every West Virginian can relate to the feeling of having someone you care about steal from you. It is a terrible feeling.”
Kimes did not return a call for comment.