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UPDATE: Under New Leadership, Food Bank Looks to Move Forward

By: WSAZ News Staff; The Associated Press; Olivia Fecteau Email
By: WSAZ News Staff; The Associated Press; Olivia Fecteau Email

UPDATE 2/28/2013 @ 5:45 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- For two new leaders at the Huntington Area Food Bank, Thursday was their first full day in their new positions.

Tiffany Tatum, the new executive director, and Debra Johnson, the new board president, began their new jobs this week. The change in leadership comes after Leigh Anne Zappin, the former executive director, was indicted on 17 charges in January, including embezzling $23,700.

Now, the Food Bank leaders are hoping to restore transparency and accountability to the organization in order to move forward.

"No less than three people touch the money when it comes in," Tatum said of their new policies. "There's checks and balances at every point."

Those checks and balances mean that Tatum, the executive director, cannot write a check, although she can sign one. No one who writes a check can also sign it, which limits the possibility for misuse.

That's not the only financial concern for the Food Bank. The organization is stretching the money it does have to serve as many people as possible. The Food Bank gets some supplies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It also recently received a $150,000 grant from Wal-Mart for its "Backpack Program."

"[The schools] hand [food] out on Fridays to kids that are on fixed income or free lunches so they have something to eat on the weekends," Jamie Moore, a Food Bank worker, said.

The Food Bank also purchases bulk foods at a cost of 19 cents per pound to distribute to food pantries and soup kitchens.

"[We] purchase a truckload of food at the cheapest price we can get it, get it out and then we'll get some more food in," Moore said.

Still, Johnson, the new board president, said the Food Bank will face financial obstacles.

"Fundraising is going to be an important part of our goals, and the board is going to be a little more involved," Johnson said.

During this transition period, both new leaders expressed hope that the community will support the Food Bank.

The organization is currently expanding its mobile food pantry program in the seventeen counties it covers, so that people can get the food they need.



UPDATE 1/24/13 @ 11 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The former executive director of the Huntington Area Food Bank appeared in court Thursday for her arraignment after being indicted on embezzlement, forgery and uttering charges.

A Cabell County grand jury issued the 17- count indictment against Leigh Anne Zappin, 56, of Huntington last week. She was arrested by W.Va. State Police on Friday.

The indictment charges Zappin was stealing $23,700 from the Food Bank during her tenure as Executive Director. Zappin resigned from the post in September after being confronted with the allegations.

During her arraignment Thursday, Zappin’s bond was reduced to $50,000 cash. If she makes bond, Judge Alfred Ferguson ordered that she be on home confinement until her case is resolved. A pretrial hearing was set for March 1.



UPDATE 1/23/13 @ 4:45 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The 17-count indictment against the former executive director of the Huntington Area Food Bank has been unsealed.

Last Friday, West Virginia State Police arrested Leigh Anne Zappin, 56, of Huntington on a sealed indictment from a Cabell County Grand Jury.

Wednesday afternoon, the indictment was unsealed. In it, Zappin is charged with one count of embezzlement, eight counts of forgery and eight counts of uttering. Investigators say she stole $23,700 from the Food Bank during her tenure as Executive Director.

Zappin is expected to be arraigned Thursday morning.

Earlier Wednesday, the agency announced it has put new controls in place to ensure all monies are properly handled.

According to a press release, no less than three people will now handle all donations and grants to ensure the funds are accounted for properly. The Executive Director no longer has the authority to write checks and adequate documentation is required before a check can be issued.

Wednesday's release says a Food Bank employee first discovered and reported the alleged discrepancies to Board President Stan Mills in September. The Board’s Treasurer noticed her signature had been forged on a check at about the same time. When Mills questioned Zappin about the alleged transactions, she chose to resign.

The Food Bank says it has insurance to cover the financial loss.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 1/23/13 @ 10:45 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- New controls are now in place at the Huntington Area Food Bank to ensure money is properly handled.

Last Friday, the Food Bank’s former executive director was arrested and charged with embezzlement and forgery after being indicted by a Cabell County Grand Jury.

W.Va. State Police say Leigh Ann Zappin, 56, of Huntington, stole about $24,000 from the agency during her tenure as executive director.

Zappin resigned from the post in September.

According to a press release, no less than three people will now handle all donations and grants to ensure the funds are accounted for properly. The Executive Director no longer has the authority to write checks and adequate documentation is required before a check can be issued.

“We’ve been working since October to strengthen our procedures and put more internal controls in place,” said Tiffany Tatum, interim executive director.

Tatum joined the Food Bank in October. She is a certified public account, has an MBA from Marshall University and more than 10 years of experience working with non-profit organizations.

Wednesday's release says a Food Bank employee first discovered and reported the alleged discrepancies to Board President Stan Mills in September. The Board’s Treasurer noticed her signature had been forged on a check at about the same time. When Mills questioned Zappin about the alleged transactions, she chose to resign.

“I understand the reaction some people have had,” Mills said, “We are making sure things are stable at the Food Bank and getting an executive director in place to continue to move forward. We’re doing the things we’re supposed to do -- helping people we’re supposed to help.”

The Food Bank has insurance to cover the financial loss.

Zappin will be arraigned on the charges Thursday morning in Cabell County Circuit Court.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 1/19/13 @ 6p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Board of Directors of the Huntington Area Food Bank says the agency has cooperated fully in the investigation of its former executive director, indicted by a recent Cabell County grand jury.

W.Va. State Police arrested Leigh Ann Zappin, 56, of Huntington Friday evening.

The indictment reportedly charges Zappin with one count of embezzlement and eight counts each of forgery and uttering follow an investigation by the West Virginia State Police.

Troopers say during Zappin's time at the Huntington Area Food Bank, she stole about $24,000.

Zappin resigned as executive director of the food bank in September.

Tiffany Tatum, who is the interim Executive Director of HAFB, also said in the written statement that “throughout this unfortunate time, the Huntington Area Food Bank has and will continue to provide service to its member agencies and the nearly 100,000 people who need food each month in the Tri-State area. Although this is a difficult time for our organization, the needs of those we serve remain unchanged.”

Zappin starting working at the food bank in 2008, first under a community service program for a prior embezzlement conviction, and then as its leader starting in the fall of 2010 and until her resignation in October.

The nonprofit food bank helps the needy in 17 counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia

Zappin remains in the Western Regional Jail. No date has been set for her arraginment.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 1/18/13 @9:55 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A former food bank director is in jail, accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from charity, West Virginia State Police troopers say.

Leigh Ann Zappin was was arrested Friday evening on embezzlement, forgery and uttering charges.

Troopers say during Zappin's time at the Huntington Area Food Bank, she stole about $24,000. Zappin resigned as executive director of the food bank in September.

She is being held in the Western Regional Jail. Zappin is expected to be arraigned Tuesday, Jan. 22, on the charges.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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