Food Bank Says Former Accounting Clerk Charged with Stealing Thousands was Hired & Vetted by Recruiting Firm

DES MOINES, Iowa – A former Food Bank of Iowa employee has been arrested after police say she embezzled $35,000 from the non-profit organization.

Thirty-one-year-old Lauren Phillips turned herself in to authorities Thursday.

Phillips is facing two counts each of first degree theft, first degree fraudulent practices, forgery, and identity theft over $1,000. Police say she worked in the accounts department at the food bank for about a year.

She is being held in the Polk County Jail on a bond of $60,000.

The Food Bank of Iowa provides food to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, schools and other organizations in 55 Iowa counties. On Friday, the food bank declined WHO-TV'S request for an interview, but they did provide the following statement:

"In June 2018, the Food Bank of Iowa detected accounting  irregularities.   Our investigation determined these irregularities involved unauthorized transactions.  The individual responsible, an accounting clerk, was dismissed immediately.  This person had been hired and vetted via a nationally known third party recruiting firm.

We are confident we have adequate safeguards to ensure against this type of situation in the future. Thankfully, insurance has covered the entire amount of money taken, so the financial impact to the organization is minimal. Additionally, we have provided information to the authorities and are fully cooperating with their investigation.

As an established non-profit organization with a long record of good work, the betrayal by a trusted employee is very disappointing, but we have taken significant steps to address the situation. Fortunately, we have a highly committed team focused on addressing the daily food needs of Iowans, so this issue has not derailed our mission or ongoing efforts."

Michelle Book

President and CEO

Food Bank of Iowa