EL RENO — The former director of an organization that advocates for abused and neglected children was arrested Monday on 72 complaints of embezzlement.
Traci Owens, 45, of Yukon, served as Canadian County’s executive director for the Court Appointed Special Advocates organization from 2010-13. She is accused of taking more than $70,000 from CASA during her time as executive director, according to court documents.
Owens had not been formally charged as of Tuesday evening.
CASA is a nonprofit organization, made up of court-appointed volunteers who work with children to ensure they are not stuck in the legal or social service systems in Oklahoma. The majority of its funds are donated from local organizations.
Owens resigned her position in June following scrutiny about her attendance. Shortly after, her replacement began to notice inconsistencies in the finances of the organization, Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West said Tuesday.
When Owens became executive director, CASA had a general fund balance of $83,408.14. At the time of her resignation, that number dwindled to $1,481.97, according to court documents.
Investigators claim Owens repeatedly wrote herself extra payroll checks and reimbursement checks for expenses she would not have had to pay in the first place, according to court documents. These claimed expenses include a hotel for a foster family, spring break trips, clothes for children, supplies and travel expenses.
“My investigation shows Owens systematically abused her position by issuing herself extra payroll, bonus checks and other unauthorized expenditures, and all but bankrupted CASA,” Canadian County Sheriff Randall Edwards said.
Owens was booked into Canadian County jail Monday and was released on $50,000 bail. Owens did not return a message seeking comment and her attorney declined to comment.