Petunia Parade issues statement about embezzlement allegations

January 25, 2014

LUDINGTON — The Ludington Petunia Parade committee has issued a statement about the embezzlement charges that were filed last week against former chairwoman Donna Brown. MCP first posted about the charges against Brown on Wednesday.

“While planning fundraising strategies for the upcoming 2014 season, a subcommittee of the Ludington Petunia Parade discovered discrepancies in financial records,” said Barb Sitler, co-chair. “The current acting members immediately reported these discrepancies to the Ludington police and an investigation was conducted by their department. The responsible party has been removed from the organization and financial access has been severed. Criminal prosecution is currently underway.

“The Petunia Parade committee is both shocked and saddened to have found these financial discrepancies.  Organizations and individuals who financially support this project must have assurance that their donations will be used for their intended purpose. We have implemented new financial safeguards.  We vow to do everything possible to maintain the trust of the community.”

Sitler said new officers have been elected and the committee is in the process of reorganizing.

“All committee members, including five new members, are actively accepting responsibilities in preparation for the 2014 planting season.  We are excited with our changes and feel strongly that the Ludington Petunia Parade 2014 will proceed with integrity and full accountability.”

Brown has been accused of taking $47,807.15 from the organization since she became chairwoman in November 2007 until November 2013. Ludington Police Chief Mark Barnett said Brown has been cooperative with the investigation.

Brown was arraigned last Friday on the charge of embezzlement of more than $20,000 and less than $50,000. She is scheduled for a Jan. 29 preliminary examination in front of Judge Pete Wadel. A $5,000 personal bail was set.



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