Woman Indicted for Stealing $237,000 From Abused Children

A former Texas children’s advocacy executive was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday for charges of stealing more than $237,000 of federal funding intended to go toward services for abused children.

Debra Rucker Brown, 51, had been the executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Tom Green County for more than 16 years. She resigned in February when the theft charges started to bubble to the surface. She will face six counts of theft from federal funds.

Each theft count carries a prison sentence of up to ten years.

According to the indictment papers, Brown obtained a co-signer on 71 fraudulent checks “on numerous occasions” from January 2005 through Dec. 31, 2010. She allegedly used the money to pay off personal credit cards or deposit money in a personal checking account

"We respected what we saw her do on behalf of children," Heather Ward, the center's current executive director, told Reuters on Thursday, "We never suspected this."

The organization is based in San Angelo, Texas and serves between 1,000 and 1,500 children annually. It uses federal grants and volunteer donations to provide services to children in need. The services offered range from providing advocates for children in the justice system, offering parental programs, and reviewing the deaths of children in the 13 county jurisdictions.

She is expected to surrender to the authorities in the next few weeks. Records do not indicate that she has an attorney yet.

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