Big Brothers settles suit with ex-worker


kward1@herald-leader.comNovember 10, 2009 

A former office manager accused of embezzling more than $435,000 from Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass has signed a deal to repay the organization.

Bendrea Wilson signed an agreed judgment with Big Brothers last week, after the organization filed a lawsuit against her and five men, alleging that Wilson had written the men, who are not affiliated with Big Brothers, at least 140 checks over the past year.

The judgment awarding Big Brothers $435,837 plus 12 percent interest per year was accepted by Judge James Ishmael and entered in Fayette Circuit Court on Friday. Wilson will also pay the cost of the lawsuit under the agreement.

"We're happy that the legal proceedings are moving forward and moving at a rapid pace," Dale Suttles, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass, said in a written statement.

Wilson did not immediately return a call from a reporter Monday evening.

Mark Wohlander, attorney for Big Brothers, said the judgment is a civil matter and is separate from any criminal charges that might be filed.

"That's all in the hands of the U.S. Attorney's Office," Wohlander said.

No charges had been filed in the case as of Monday.

Wohlander said he does not believe that Wilson has any of the money in her possession, but that the judgment will at least allow the non-profit to recover assets from her if she acquires them.

"We want to move forward with the organization," Wohlander said.

In addition to Wilson, Big Brothers' lawsuit names Demetrius Davis, Danny Fondren, Emmanuel Marshall and Charles Mealing, all of Lexington, and Marcus Searcy of Danville. Wohlander said the lawsuit will continue against them.

The alleged embezzlement scheme came to light in October, when Central Bank warned Big Brothers about suspicious activity with some checks, according to officials with Big Brothers. The amount taken represents about a third of the organization's annual budget of $1.3 million, and the leadership has been scrambling to make ends meet.

The organization serves 1,100 children each year in 14 Central Kentucky counties.

Herald-Leader staff writer Ashlee Clark contributed to this report.

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