On April 27, 2016

Charges filed against former finance director of Hunger Free Vermont

BURLINGTON—On April 25, Vermont’s U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a signed plea agreement from Sally Hartford Kirby, former finance director of Hunger Free Vermont charged with embezzling $165,000 over a period of many years. The theft was initially discovered at the end of October 2015 by the organization’s executive director, Marissa Parisi, thanks to a call from their local bank reporting irregularities with the charity’s checking account. Parisi immediately reported the issue to the leadership of the board of directors and the authorities. Since the discovery, the organization has been working with federal law enforcement to investigate the full extent of the fraud.
In the months since the discovery of the embezzlement, the board, staff, and entire community have rallied to support the organization and keep their good work moving forward. “I am incredibly proud of the resilience that Hunger Free Vermont has exhibited over the last several months,” remarks Rabbi James Glazier of Temple Sinai and Chair of the Hunger Free Vermont’s Board of Directors. “The staff hasn’t skipped a beat with reaching their programmatic goals and leadership has been able to make smart, strategic decisions to quickly implement new systems and begin restoring the financial health of the organization.”
Hunger Free Vermont works on programs and policy that provide food every day to vulnerable populations including children and senior citizens. Their programmatic focus in the last five years has been providing universal school meals, childcare meals, summer meal programs for children, outreach to food insecure seniors, and teaching children and families to cook on a small budget. “We have been working hard to put this theft behind us and protect our important work across Vermont,” states Marissa Parisi, executive director of Hunger Free Vermont, “We are grateful for the efforts of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in conducting a thorough investigation and for our community of supporters who have helped us through this crisis. We are confident that we are coming out the other side of this a much stronger organization.”
Hunger Free Vermont is incurring many costs as part of the investigation and working to restore their reserve funds to protect the long-term financial health of the organization. They launched the “Phoenix Fund” to help with these costs with an initial $150,000 goal. With $25,000 more to raise, anyone interested in making a gift to help the organization in this effort can give to the “Phoenix Fund” by going to Hunger Free Vermont’s website at www.hungerfreevt.org.

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