United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today former executive director at Evansville-based nonprofit ECHO Housing Corporation, Stephanie TenBarge, was arrested and indicted on three counts of theft around programs receiving federal funds. TenBarge, 71, will appear before a federal magistrate judge for her initial appearance.
TenBarge served as executive director of ECHO Housing Corporation before stepping down in March of last year. With the organization, she handled bookkeeping, balancing bank statements and gathering finance reports and records for ECHO’s Board of Directors to approve. She also maintained and controlled ECHO’s checking accounts and is said to have had the ability to allocate funds from the organization’s accounts to herself and other individuals.
TenBarge is alleged to have embezzled funds from ECHO Housing Corporation by making unauthorized payments to herself, using Echo funds to pay for personal goods, services and property taxes, and issuing unauthorized payroll checks to herself from January 2015 through December 2017.
During this time period, ECHO received federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Labor.
ECHO Housing released a statement regarding the allegations: “As we process the news of the arrest of our former director, we are reminded that the mission of ECHO Housing, to provide housing to those living in poverty, is larger than any one team member within our organization. Though saddened by this incident, we are grateful for the assistance and professionalism of local and federal law enforcement and the many partner agencies that have assisted ECHO Housing in becoming stronger and moving forward. While ECHO Housing cannot undo the past, we have learned from this incident and have worked both internally and externally to enact substantive operational changes that will prevent this from occurring in the future by ensuring transparency, accountability, and oversight.”