Former Woodruff director sentenced for stealing $1 million

ATLANTA — An Ellenwood man who admitted to stealing more than $1 million from Woodruff Arts Center while serving as the facilities director was sentenced to two years, six months in a federal prison.

Ralph Clark, 42, was also ordered to repay $1 million in restitution and serve three years on supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said his theft extended beyond the center’s wall.

“When the defendant embezzled over $1 million from the Woodruff Arts Center, he not only stole from the Arts Center, but the entire community served by the center,” said Yates. “His greed and betrayal has fairly landed him in prison.”

Yates said testimony and evidence showed that in June 2006, Clark was promoted to director of facilities at the Woodruff Arts Center, after acting in this capacity for several months. His duties included ensuring that the Arts Center was properly maintained.

“As director of facilities, he was authorized to approve vendor contracts up to $50,000,” she said. “While carrying out these duties between November 2005 and October 2012, Clark embezzled more than $1.1 million from the Woodruff Arts Center.”

Yates said Clark embezzled the money by submitting invoices for bogus expenses to Woodruff Arts Center’s accounts payable department. The bogus invoices included invoices from his wife’s business — Lowe’s Services — which was an apartment cleaning business set up by his wife in 2003.

The bogus Lowe’s Services invoices were for goods and services that were never provided to the Woodruff Arts Center or were performed by Clark himself, she said. After the accounts payable department received an invoice, it generated checks from Woodruff’s checking account. Clark would then pick the checks up in person and deposit them into accounts on which he had signatory authority.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.