UPDATE(5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022): Anna King spoke with a former executive director today about Phillips.

She told us we did not have enough money. So we were very, very cautious about anything that we spent and so we mainly tried to do the essentials. Make sure we were paying our staff and make sure we were providing the needed services that our grants require.

Suzi Brodof, Former Executive Director

As a result of Phillips’ actions, they say they were forced to close childcare facilities and other programs due to what happened to be a lack of funding.

The organization says they will use the restitution money to fund other community programs.

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — A woman from Chesapeake, Ohio has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison for stealing millions in federal funds from the River Valley Child Development Services (RVCDS), a non-profit organization in Huntington.

Ruth Marie Phillips, 69, who also goes by Marie Phillips, worked at RVCDS from Dec. 1986 to Sep. 2020, according to court documents.

The DOJ says that Phillips admitted from Dec. 2013 to August 2020, she stole more than $4.7 million. $1.1 million went to her personal checking and $3.3 million to Attitude Aviation’s bank account. Attitude Aviation has offices in Huntington and South Point that provide aeronautical services.

The documents say that between July 2016 and June 2017, the RVCDS received more than $7.1 million in federal funding. It says that Phillips used her authority at the non-profit to steal almost $1 million of that money during the period previously mentioned.

According to court documents, Phillips agreed to forfeit assets, including more than $300,000 from the sale of a lake house in Smith Mountain Lake, VA that was used in the scheme.

$169,954.58 is being paid back from the sale of a Randolph County property and $322,288.50 from the sale of two airplanes, her residence in Chesapeake, Ohio, a Lexus RX and a Chevrolet Corvette, and four more airplanes she had planned to sell, according to the DOJ.

At the time of the sentencing, Phillips has forfeited approximately $868,561.44 which will be applied to her restitution debt. The full amount is said to be determined at a hearing on April 4, 2022.

“Phillips stole millions of dollars meant for families and children in the Huntington area for her own personal use.  It doesn’t get much worse than stealing from children,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson.  “I am thankful for the work of our law enforcement partners and my staff which resulted in a substantial sentence for Phillips and ensured that she will pay restitution to the nonprofit.” 

While sentencing Phillips, they say that the Court departed from the sentencing guidelines, saying that the range for the crimes did not account for the “substantial harm” to the non-profit and taxpayers.