A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

CVB 20-year employee arrested, arraigned on charges of embezzlement of $3 million in funds

Bridget Johnson, former director of finance for meetNKY/Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau (the CVB), was arrested by Covington police Friday for her alleged role in a sophisticated criminal activity that resulted in the embezzlement and misappropriation of funds from the organization.

Johnson was arraigned this morning and her bond was set at $500,000. A preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 27.

Bridget Johnson

On Sept. 26, BB&T, the CVB’s bank, alerted the organization about suspicious electronic transfers in its operating account. The next day, Johnson was administratively suspended pending a full investigation into the matter, according to a statement from CVB.
 
The CVB contacted the Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Covington Police, and Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting an ongoing investigation. After a preliminary report from these law-enforcement agencies, Summe terminated Johnson’s employment on Oct. 3.
 
Law enforcement officials believe that Johnson allegedly created fraudulent invoices to the CVB on behalf of several bogus vendors and then paid more than $3 million to these vendors from three different bank accounts over the course of about 16 months, and then took action to cover up these activities from the organization.
 
Johnson’s actions violated the CVB’s established accounting procedures, which require dual signatures on all checks and no electronic transfers for account payables. Reconciliation of bank statements provided to the CVB by BB&T indicate that someone physically redacted evidence of these electronic transfers from the statements before presenting them to organizational leadership, the CVB board, and third-party auditors.

In addition, falsified financial statements appear to have been presented to both the CVB leadership team and its board to cover up these fraudulent transfers.
 
The statement said, “The CVB board is immensely disappointed that a trusted, 20-year employee allegedly exploited her position and leveraged our internal processes and safeguards we had in place for her personal gain by allegedly stealing organizational funds and betraying our trust. The CVB is currently evaluating and refining our internal controls and will make changes to ensure that similar criminal activity does not occur in the future.”
 

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