Ex-Kentuck director faces theft charges
By Stephanie Taylor Staff Writer
Published: Friday, March 19, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
TUSCALOOSA | The former director of the Kentuck Museum Association was charged Thursday with stealing money from the Northport-based organization.
Sara Anne Gibson, 53, was charged with first-degree theft. She was released from the Tuscaloosa County Jail on $100,000 bail.
A grand jury issued the indictment on the felony theft charge.
“The allegation is that there was money stolen from Kentuck while she was the director,” said Tuscaloosa
County District Attorney Tommy Smith. He could not give more details about the case because it is pending, he said.
The alleged theft occurred between 2003 and 2009, he said, and constituted several thousand dollars. His records did not indicate an exact number, and a court file containing the indictment was not available to the public Thursday.
State law defines a charge of first-degree theft as money or items worth more than $2,500.
Gibson did not return a call to her mobile phone Thursday afternoon.
Including time as a volunteer, she worked with Kentuck in several positions for 30 years before she resigned as director on Feb. 27, 2009.
Kentuck board president Amy Echols released a statement from the board’s executive committee.
“The Kentuck Board of Directors, subsequent to the resignation of Sara Anne Gibson, discovered evidence that indicated there were problems with internal control on financial matters,” it read.
Gibson resigned in February 2009, and by April, the board had put into place controls and accounting procedures, the statement said, and had notified law enforcement and its insurance company.
The statement goes on to say “This has been a hard learning experience for all of us, but the board has brought back accountability to Kentuck’s daily business practices, and we’re restoring the faith of our community.
“While the past year has been extremely difficult, the healing and growth experienced has been an inspiration to all involved.”
Gibson was named director in April 2003 after serving as interim director for two months. Her duties included launching and running the annual October festival, overseeing staff and soliciting funding.
The nationally recognized, two-day Kentuck Festival of the Arts is a showcase for folk arts and crafts, with an estimated 225 exhibits each year at the festival, which is attended by 40,000 to 50,000 people. The Kentuck Arts Center, which houses a store and museum, is open year-round.
The organization’s funds come from private donations, grants and government appropriations, merchandise sold and festival admissions.
According to Kentuck’s tax forms for June 1, 2008, to May 31, 2009, Gibson earned $31,250. The organization brought in $292,471 that year and spent $270,786. The previous two fiscal years, however, ended with budget deficits.
From June 2007 to May 2008, the organization ended with a deficit of $31,545, with a reported $258,686 of income and $290,231 in expenses.
The June 2006 to May 2007 year shows $262,136 of revenue and $264,215 in expenses reported — a deficit of $2,079.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at
news.com or 205-722-0210. Staff writer Mark Hughes Cobb contributed to this report.