Cullman Cyclones president charged with stealing money from organization


Karen Blackwood (Cullman Police Department)

Updated 7-12-18 at 3:50 p.m.

CULLMAN – The president of the Cullman Cyclones Youth Football Association has been arrested and charged with stealing from the organization.

Karen Cowart Blackwood, 41, was arrested on Tuesday, July 10. She is charged with first-degree theft of property, third-degree forgery and fraudulent use of a debit or credit card.

Sgt. Todd Chiaranda, a financial crimes investigator with the Cullman Police Department, said in a statement, "In June of this year I launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from the Cullman Cyclones Youth Football Association in reference to missing monies. The investigation led to the arrest of the association’s president, 41-year-old Karen Cowart Blackwood of Cullman."

Chiaranda said evidence collected during the investigation indicates Blackwood embezzled more than $14,000 from the Cyclones’ operating account while serving as the association president from January 2018 to June 2018.

After reviewing the evidence, said Chiaranda, the Cullman County District Attorney’s Office issued a warrant for Blackwood's arrest. Blackwood turned herself in at the Cullman County Detention Center. She was released on an $18,000 property bond.

"Employee theft is very common," said Chiaranda. "The most effective way to combat internal theft is prevention. Never allow one member of the business or organization to possess complete control over finances. Introduce a system of checks and balances that extends the responsibility to several other persons. I cannot emphasize enough how important record keeping is in prevention. Not every business or organization can afford to retain the services of an accounting firm. However, a simple but detailed transaction record-keeping practice combined with a separation of responsibilities provides a strong deterrent against theft and could save your business from taking a large financial loss." 

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