CASA director arrested
Joanne Patterson, 55, the director of Citizens Against Spouse Abuse, or CASA, was arrested Tuesday and charged with Embezzlement of Public Funds, Value $10,000 or more.
According to the warrant, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety gave Patterson $29,600 to buy two vans. It says Patterson appropriated or converted the money for other purposes.
Earlier this month, we learned there were allegations of mismanagement being investigated by the organization and the State Law Enforcement Division.
CASA has served Horry and Georgetown counties for more than 30 years as a resource for victims of domestic violence.
Peterson was known as a tireless advocate for the organization, so the entire investigation is shocking to even board members.
Erin Wilde has been named the new director for CASA II.
She says the money Patterson was given did not go towards the two vans but instead something more important.
"All I know is that the money was spent to keep the doors open of CASA," says Wilde.
The doors to CASA's safe houses closed last week after donors pulled their funding. Wilde's main concern are the women they can't help now that the organization has closed.
"There's a need right now for that safe place, I don't doubt that for a moment," she says.
It's because of that need that Wilde is making plans to re-open CASA, but she is giving it a new name, CASA II.
She also is instilling a new board of directors that will be voted in July 1st.
Wilde hopes that these changes will bring back donations to the organization.
"I'm sure there may be people who are hesitant, but I'm taking absolutely every step that I need to make sure," says Wilde.
CASA II plans to open it's doors within two weeks.
We did reach out to JoAnne Patterson today, but her family declined to comment at this time.