An investigation into accusations of theft by the former Good Shepherd Foundation of Bartow County, Inc. operations director is ongoing — and Bartow County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) representatives have not ruled out the possibility of additional charges being filed.
“At this point, the case is still being looked at, and they’ll continue to have it checked forensically through the accountant’s services,” said BCSO Sgt. Jonathan White.
A heavily redacted incident report from July indicates Baynard was initially facing 25 counts of identity theft fraud when using/possessing identifying information concerning a person, one count of theft by taking and one count of exploitation.
“Those would just be the initial, but pending a further review or a forensic investigation and actually going through the accounts that we were provided, that would be how those numbers would change,” White said.
White said the two counts of exploitation do involve a disabled adult who worked at the Good Shepherd Foundation.
“It could be illegally using a disabled person's resources under false pretenses, that could also apply in this case,” he said. “They could go along the lines of causing financial harm to a disabled person, or using their personal information.”
The incident report from July 1 makes reference to a Good Shepherd Foundation board member who “feared retaliation by suspect Misty Baynard if Misty was confronted” over the allegations of wrongdoing.
The complainant alleged that Baynard continued to write checks to a terminated employee and fraudulently issued Good Shepherd Foundation checks to an unspecified business account.
At this juncture, White said he could not publicize any additional information on those alleged offenses.
“At this point, we’re still looking at some stuff on that, so other than what I’ve released I really can’t give any more at this time,” he said. “We won’t release that, because that would be one of the pertinent information that we would disclose at the time of the trial.”
He did, however, indicate that no other individuals are currently being investigated as part of the case.
A BCSO press release last week indicated the total amount allegedly taken by Baynard was about $45,000. White said it is possible that the actual amount purportedly taken by the suspect is even greater.
The Good Shepherd Foundation Board of Directors submitted a joint statement to The Daily Tribune News regarding the accusations of financial misconduct.
“After a preliminary investigation, Ms. Baynard was relieved of her duties and the matter was referred to the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation,” the statement reads. “Ms. Baynard’s arrest on Sept. 21 was the result of that investigation.”
The Good Shepherd Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that operates a work center for adults with developmental disabilities.
“The Good Shepherd Foundation remains open, actively providing meaningful work to adults with developmental disabilities and very much looking forward to remaining a vibrant and meaningful part of the Bartow County community,” the statement concluded.
“The Grant Writing Department was shocked to hear of this development when it was discovered, and we are working closely with the Good Shepherd Board of Directors to ensure that the grant project can be competed according to schedule,” said Bartow County Grant Writing Department Director Valerie Gilreath.
Gilreath, at this point, said she is unaware of any State or federal sanctions that may be imposed on the foundation, such as suspension of funding eligibility or revocation of the organization’s nonprofit status.
She also said that none of the money allegedly taken by Baynard was associated with the federal grant.
“Because the CDBG is a partnership between Bartow County and the Good Shepherd Foundation, with Bartow County being the applicant and recipient, all CDBG funds are processed through Bartow County government accounts,” she said. “At no time were CDBG funds in the Good Shepherd account, nor will they be throughout the project."