Former Meals on Wheels employee charged with wire fraud

A former bookkeeper for Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels has charged in federal court for wire fraud. Prosecutors say Michelle S. Ferrell used money meant for the organization on herself.

Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels, which is based in Spokane Valley, first noticed something wrong in late spring of 2018. A forensic CPA was brought in to investigate and GSC Meals on Wheels board member Rick Waldt says Ferrell was later suspended. She no longer works at the organization.

Court documents say between 2013 and 2018, Ferrell allegedly spent tens of thousands of dollars meant for operational costs on herself, often “disguising” the fraudulent expenses to appear as legitimate Meals on Wheels purchases.

Waldt said there was not an extensive dual verification process in place, allowing Ferrell clear access to the funds. The organization has since implemented several changes to remedy that.

“She was basically our bookkeeper, everything that had anything to do with our finances ran through her desk,” Waldt said. “Having spent my life in business, looking back on it I don’t know how we missed it,” he said.

Waldt said the amount of money lost was between $90,000 and $100,000. Prosecutors are asking for $89,000 in restitution.

Because of the loss of funds, taxes were filed incorrectly. Court documents say GSC Meals on Wheels had to pay the IRS $120,000 as a result.

“Our whole organization exists to take care of people to provide service to people who need help and to find out that somebody was taking advantage of that was pretty painful actually for everybody,” Waldt said.

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