The former Zepf Center CEO Jennifer Moses spent Thursday testifying in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on her own behalf, claiming that all purchases on her company credit card were business-related or they were otherwise reconciled.
Ms. Moses, 48, of Maumee, is charged with grand theft, a felony of the fourth-degree, and two counts of forgery, both fifth-degree felonies, for allegedly misusing the nonprofit mental health agency’s funds. Prosecutors say the incidents happened between October, 2011, and July, 2017, when Ms. Moses was placed on administrative leave until she posted her resignation July 18 on Facebook — four days after she was suspended.
She is accused of using the company issued credit card for various personal expenses — including home decorations and a family vacation to New York. She is also accused of forging the signature of former board president Angelita Cruz Bridges on a credit card statement that included nearly $3,000-worth of cosmetic purchases, and for seeking reimbursement from the company after her personal check was not cashed.
On Thursday, Ms. Moses took the stand to admit to some wrongdoing, but otherwise claimed the allegations against her are “absolutely not true.”
Prosecutors allege Ms. Moses bought more than $6,000 worth of goods from the e-commerce company Wayfair, which sells furniture and home decorations. Defense attorney Kim Conklin reviewed several pages of purchases on Thursday with Ms. Moses and asked her to identify its purpose for the Zepf Center.
Under Ms. Moses’ direction, the company grew significantly from drowning in debt to an over $40 million budget, with 14 total buildings — many of which needed to be furnished and decorated. The CEO, who didn’t have a personal assistant, said there was an employee who had the responsibility of ordering office supplies, but it was typically her and other Zepf Center employees ordering furniture to fill these rooms.
Ms. Moses said she had a vision of how she wanted the company to be presented — she wanted a welcoming and inviting feeling instead of the sterile and institutionalized feeling found at similar behavioral health agencies. She purchased mirrors for decorations, painting easels for art therapy, or massage chairs and towel warmers to help patients feel better.
Other times, she bought items such as a chocolate fountain or luggage for fundraising events.
Sometimes such items were delivered to her home, and other times they were delivered to Zepf Center. Ms. Moses said it depended if she wanted to make sure it was the proper item for the company or personally deliver it to a specific person or place.
Current CEO Deb Flores testified Tuesday that she saw a large massage chair sitting in Ms. Moses’ bedroom — which appeared to be similar to one ordered online. Ms. Moses said she had the chair delivered to her Maumee home first but the chair was not working properly. It sat in the middle of her bedroom floor until she could get the right part to fix it and then taken to the Zepf Center, she testified on Thursday.
Other employees testified this week about picking items up from Ms. Moses’ home and taking them to the facilities.
Other times, Ms. Moses purchased items for Zepf Center and they didn’t work out. For example, Ms. Moses purchased a large area rug for the men’s recovery home, which members said they didn’t like. Ms. Moses then purchased another rug with her own money — at an unknown cost — and kept the original rug in her home.
Ms. Moses testified she purchased holiday decorations for a work gathering at her home. The decorations were then taken to Zepf.
“The company saved quite a bit of money having the party at my house versus a restaurant,” she said.
Or, a set of patio furniture ordered by Ms. Moses for a Zepf Center patio area was determined to be plastic and thin. Ms. Moses kept that outdoor furniture and gave Zepf her own rod-iron patio set, and she also purchased additional chairs, side tables, flower pots, and tiki torches.
Additionally, Ms. Moses said she purchased several items for her home and for personal use, as well as gifts for Zepf Center fundraisers through Wayfair points — meaning there was no charge to the company credit card. Ms. Moses acknowledged it was the Zepf Center’s Wayfair account, but she said used the rewards to reconcile her personal purchases toward business-related costs.
There was no company policy regarding how points were to be utilized, and as CEO, Ms. Moses had the authority to make one.
Ms. Moses said she did not keep receipts of such purchases, but former employees in the finance department and a former board president were aware of the situation. However, prosecutors pointed out that neither of those former financial department employee testified and there were no documents regarding such correspondence. Additionally, former board president Kevin Carmody testified Wednesday he did not recall having such a conversation with Ms. Moses.
Ms. Moses said recurring purchases from iTunes were related to her needing additional storage on her phone, and a reimbursement form indicated she paid the company back after her daughter was purchasing music connected to the company card, she said.
Ms. Moses did admit to accidentally booking an April, 2017, family trip to New York on the company credit card as well as racking up nearly $2,400 at a pharmacy.
She also admitted to owing the company $2,500 after she was refunded by Zepf Center for making out a January, 2017, personal check to another organization in need. Ms. Moses said she didn’t realize her personal check was not cashed until late June, 2017, just weeks prior to her separation from the company.
“I didn’t pay it back. I had every intention to,” she said.
Her lawyers did not advise her to immediately repay the funds.
Ms. Moses’ annual salary was $215,000.
Closing arguments are scheduled to be heard Friday morning.
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