In Your Corner: Former Zoo CFO accused of embezzlement
OKLAHOMA CITY – Earlier this year, our team received a tip about a city employee accused of embezzlement.
The accused in this case is not just any city worker either, but the former Chief Financial Officer for the Oklahoma City Zoo.
It turns out the accused felon is someone we’ve investigated before.
Heather Campbell is accused of embezzling more than $10,000 from the Oklahoma City Zoo where she was Chief Financial Officer.
Zoo Executive Director, Dwight Scott said, “We asked the City Auditor’s Office to come in and help us and do a snapshot where we are with our policies.”
Campbell first popped up on our radar about seven years ago for a complaint tied to her now defunct company, Magnum Mortgage Corporation.
“I’m on total maternity leave, so I didn’t know about it,” Campbell said.
At the time, she chalked-up the customer complaint to the subprime mortgage crisis.
“The entire market has gone crazy,” she said. “She’s one of these that got caught in that, so she is aware she had lending problems.”
Now there are new complaints tied to her short tenure as CFO for the zoo.
NewsChannel 4’s Scott Hines says, “Were you surprised by her abrupt resignation?”
Dwight Scott says, “I probably shouldn’t comment on anything specific to the situation. There’s confidentiality from several different angles. One, it’s a personal issue.”
Just like other non-profits, the zoo relies heavily on donations and taxpayer dollars.
Records obtained by the In Your Corner team show Campbell is accused of swiping funds and merchandise between November and December of last year.
A city audit revealed improper expenditures involving cash advances, gift cards and travel expenses.
Campbell eventually had help paying back the money.
Her attorney, John Coyle, issued an apology to the Oklahoma City Zoo saying, “Ms. Campbell sincerely apologizes for her actions.”
However the former CFO is still facing a felony embezzlement charge.
For weeks, we left voicemail after voicemail for her, but received no response.
We stopped by her home, but didn’t have any luck there either.
Our investigation forged on.
We uncovered at least three inconsistencies with Campbell’s resume and employment applications, like her claim that she’s a certified field agent for the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA.
That type of certification doesn’t exist.
And we discovered two previous foreclosure filings for Campbell’s home in Oklahoma County.
At one time, she was also charged with writing a bogus check.
She paid back the money then too and the case was later dismissed.
It begs the question. Why would the zoo hire Campbell to oversee its finances in light of her previous felony case and financial troubles?
“Well, we do a background check for all of our employees,” Dwight Scott said.
Earlier this year the zoo beefed up its background checks.
The same ongoing reviews are underway at the City of Mustang, where prior to her stint at the zoo, Campbell served as finance director.
City Manager, Tim Rooney, says Campbell left the books a mess, costing the city tens of thousands of dollars on a third party audit.
“There were some irregularities due to some failure to do routine account balancing and things of that nature,” Rooney said.
Rooney wasn’t around when Campbell was hired on as finance director, but says the city contracted an outside employment agency, HLP Solutions, to vet Campbell.
He said, “Before they forwarded applicants to us for consideration, they were to have done that background check.”
We checked with HLP Solutions.
They claim their agency conducted a drug test, credit check and criminal background check on Campbell, then provided all of their results, including court documents, to the City of Mustang.
Rooney says his office is actively reviewing its policies.
“I think going forward it’s certainly the city’s responsibility to do their due diligence in any kind of background search,” he said.
Zoo officials say they’re doing everything in their power to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.
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