UPDATE: Judge Calls Former Food Bank Director 'Thief' During Sentencing

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email
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UPDATE 10/3/14 @ 5:55 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Two years after stealing more than $32,000 from the Huntington Foodbank, Leigh Anne Zappin was back in court Friday to be sentenced for the crime. However, it's what happened afterward in the hallway outside of the courtroom when things really took a wild turn.

Zappin's son, Anthony, confronted a Herald-Dispatch reporter, knocking his recorder to the ground and stomping it. It happened moments after Zappin learned his mom would be heading to prison.

Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson sentenced Leigh Anne Zappin to one to 10 years. She had previously pleaded guilty to stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the Huntington Foodbank during a nine-month span in 2012. Judge Ferguson said it's at least the fourth time Zappin had embezzled money from a business.

"You should never be in a position of trust where you handle money for anybody you work for, because you've proven that," Ferguson said. "I am saying you've got a character flaw there."

Zappin complained to Ferguson that the prison sentence will prevent her from getting ongoing therapy.

"I can't access therapy and keep making progress," Zappin said, "I can't."

But Ferguson did not budge.

"I've given a lot of consideration to this," Ferguson said. "You're a thief. You've been stealing. That's what it all comes down to it. You've been stealing, and you've really not wanted to admit that."

Zappin then told the judge she takes full responsibility for her actions.

"I am not putting the blame on anybody else," Zappin said. "I really and truly am not. I am taking responsibility for this myself."

"But you need to pay for what you have done," Judge Ferguson said. "Ma'am, this is your forth time."

Moments later, while leaving the courtroom, WSAZ tried speaking with the Zappin's. But that's when Anthony Zappin confronted Herald-Dispatch reporter Curtis Johnson.

Anthony Zappin tried to leave the courthouse, but was stopped by security. That's when Zappin claimed he was the victim.

"No, {Johnson} assaulted me," Anthony Zappin said. "{Johnson} assaulted me with his recorder."

WSAZ.com contacted Curtis Johnson, who denies assaulting Zappin "in any fashion." As of now, WSAZ.com has yet to learn of any charges filed by Anthony Zappin, but he himself may be charged in the incident.

As for Leigh Anne Zappin, Judge Ferguson gave her a full month before having to turn herself in to begin her prison sentence. Judge Ferguson said that will allow her to set up care for her ailing husband.



UPDATE 9/3/14 @ 11 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The former executive director of the Huntington Area Food Bank has been sentenced to prison after she pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement earlier this year.

Judge Alfred Ferguson sentenced Leigh Ann Zappin, 57, of Huntington, to 1-10 years during a hearing Friday. During the sentencing, Ferguson called Zappin a “thief.”

Our crew in the courtroom says that following the hearing, Zappin’s adult son confronted a reporter for the Huntington newspaper in the courthouse hallway, smashing his tape recorder. Anthony Zappin tells WSAZ.com that he was confronted first by the reporter.

Leigh Ann Zappin was indicted on 17 counts in January 2013 following an investigation by W.Va. State Police.

The indictment charged Zappin with stealing $23,700 from the Food Bank during her tenure as the organization’s leader.

Zappin resigned from the post in September 2012 after being confronted with the allegations.

16 counts of forgery and uttering were dropped as part of the agreement.

As part of the plea, Zappin was required to pay restitution of nearly $30,000 to the Board of Risk Management and the Food Bank.

During the plea hearing, Zappin told the court she had PTSD. She also said at one point she was “hearing voices screaming in her head.”

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

The Food Bank has insurance to cover the financial loss.



ORIGINAL STORY 5/5/14
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The former executive director of the Huntington Area Food Bank has pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement.

Leigh Ann Zappin, 57, of Huntington, entered the plea Monday morning during a hearing in Cabell County Circuit Court.

Zappin was indicted on 17 counts in January 2013 following an investigation by W.Va. State Police.

The indictment charged Zappin was stealing $23,700 from the Food Bank during her tenure as the organization’s leader.

Zappin resigned from the post in September 2012 after being confronted with the allegations.

16 counts of forgery and uttering were dropped as part of the agreement.

Zappin will be sentenced in June. There is no word on what type of sentence she will receive. Prosecutors say that decision will be up to the judge. She could receive a sentence of 12 months or more in in jail

She will also be required to pay restitution of nearly $30,000 to the Board of Risk Management and the Food Bank.

During the hearing, Zappin told the court she had PTSD. She also said at one point she was “hearing voices screaming in her head.”

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

The Food Bank has insurance to cover the financial loss.

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

Statement from ~ Debra Johnson-Tourigny, Food Bank Board President
"With a new board and a new name we are proud of the direction we are taking and excited about the future. Today’s plea brings an end to the court process, but for us, this chapter has been closed for some time. We appreciate those who have continued to support our mission as we continue to provide food to hungry children, seniors and families who need our help.”


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