Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 21, 2013

Former food bank director charged with embezzlement

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

Huntington — The former executive director of the Huntington Area Food Bank was arrested Friday for allegedly embezzling more than $23,000 from the charity.

Leigh Anne Zappin, 56, of Huntington, was arrested on a 17-count indictment returned by a Cabell County grand jury. The indictment charges her with a single count of embezzlement and eight counts each of forgery and uttering.

The indictment stemmed from an investigation by the West Virginia State Police. It alleges Zappin forged and uttered eight checks totaling $22,820.26 and stole $879.74 through means that weren’t specified.

Zappin allegedly uttered each of the checks using the forged signature of board treasurer Ann Kipp and then presented them to employees at J.P. Morgan Chase Bank.

The alleged offenses occurred Jan. 21 and Sept. 21 of last year, according to the indictment. Zappin resigned her position at the food bank on Sept. 28, citing medical reasons.

The charges mark the third time Zappin has allegedly misappropriated funds from an employer. She was convicted of misdemeanor embezzlement for stealing $4,500 from Chic Wigs at the Huntington Mall between December 2006 and March 2007.

Under the terms of her plea agreement, which reduced what would have been a felony charge to a misdemeanor, Zappin was required to perform community service and that led her to the food bank, which services 290 member agencies that assist the hungry in a 17-county area in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

Board members named Zappin interim director of the food bank in 2009 and awarded her the position on a permanent basis in the fall of 2010. The board said at the time it was aware of Zappin’s history with Chic Wigs. However, it didn’t learn of her issues with another former employer, Ferguson Land Co., in 2011.

No criminal charges were filed in the Ferguson Land case, but the company, which employed Zappin from 1993 to 1995, was awarded a $61,897 civil judgment against her.

The food bank issued the following statement about Zappin’s arrest:

“The Huntington Area Food Bank’s board of directors and employees have cooperated fully in this investigation and will continue to assist prosecutors as this case moves through the court system. The food bank has never stopped serving our community. We continue in our mission to feed the nearly 100,000 people who need food each month in the Tri-State.”

 Zappin was lodged in the Western Regional Jail, where she remained on Monday, according to the jail’s website.

 KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.