Bookkeeper theft prompts changes at Oasis Safe Haven

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 6:42 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - If people don’t trust you, they likely won’t donate to you. That’s part of the fallout if an employee steals from a nonprofit. That’s what happened to the local women’s shelter.

Oasis Safe Haven provides shelter for women who have been abused and need to get out of danger. It’s been a favorite for those wishing to donate to a worthy cause.

When it came out a bookkeeper stole money over a period of about two years, Executive Director Kathy Manuel admits donations decreased.

“When you’re a nonprofit your integrity and your reputation is what brings you donations. And we immediately made changes as soon as it was discovered. We have no bookkeeper anymore. We have no plans of having a bookkeeper,” she said.

Manuel said she and a staff member discovered a variety of ways in which Meaghan Boudreaux was diverting funds to her personal bank account and receiving insurance without paying premiums.

Boudreaux pleaded guilty to theft over $25,000, but investigators concluded the theft was closer to $200,000.

Manuel said they have made changes to make sure it never happens again.

“When the mail comes in I open it and initial what we’re going to pay. It goes to our assistant director who processes some things and sends it to Broussard and Company who actually takes care of the rest of it and do the payroll, they come in and do that. They do the bank statements, they process everything, give me the reports that I need,” she explained.

Then a separate entity does a yearly audit.

Manuel said for a nonprofit, trust and integrity are vital to stay afloat. She believes the shelter has again regained the confidence of the community.

Boudreaux is to be sentenced April 26. Then it will likely be announced whether she must pay back what was stolen.

Manuel said the shelter did get back $100,000 from a surety bond they had taken out.