A Hendersonville couple that was criminally indicted for embezzling more than $700,000 from a local nonprofit organization is now facing a civil lawsuit — which also names a West End accounting firm.
The Nashville-based American Association for State and Local History contacted local authorities earlier this year after uncovering “alarming” financial discrepancies within the organization.
The organization discovered that longtime employee and financial director Risa Woodward was embezzling money. According to the lawsuit, Woodward used the company's credit card to purchase a range of items, including tickets to a Def Leppard concert and items from TV channel QVC.
She also allegedly withdrew six-figure amounts every year from the organization's account from 2006 to 2010. The lawsuit claims Woodward's husband, James Woodward, was aware of the fraud and benefited from the influx of money and goods.
Both Woodwards pleaded not guilty to criminal charges relating to the case.
AASLH also maintains that CPA firm Frasier Dean & Howard failed to act on obvious signs of financial misuse.
The suit — view it here  — concedes that the firm identified several issues pertaining to the organization’s finances — specifically that Woodward was the sole individual with authority over funds. However, “FD&H breached its duty under the above standard by failing to obtain reasonable assurance that all the AASLH financial statements it provided to the Plaintiff were free of material misstatement,” the lawsuit claims.
AASLH is seeking nearly $4.9 million, which includes repayment of the stolen funds from the Woodwards, a $3 million compensatory award against the couple, and another $950,000 from Frasier Dean & Howard.
The accounting firm had no comment when reached by phone on Monday. The Woodwards' next court date is on Friday for discussion.
Douglas Jones and Barbara Perutelli of downtown-based Schulman LeRoy & Bennett are representing the AASLH.