- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - An animal shelter volunteer in Utah accused of misdemeanor theft could face additional sharges after staff members discovered more than $10,000 was missing, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Erin L. Chapman, 32, was initially seen on video taking about $30 from the till and donation box at the St. George-based group Providing Animals With Support, court documents state.

After the misdemeanor charge was filed, police got new evidence that the amount embezzled could top $10,000, St. George police Sgt. Sam Despain said. Police believe it was stolen over time, at first in small amounts and then larger sums.

Prosecutors will likely file additional charges against Chapman when the investigation is complete, said Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap.

Court records did not show an attorney for Chapman. No publicly listed phone number was available for her.

Court document say she acknowledged taking about $1,000 and told a police officer she had been having money problems.

The missing money was a serious setback for the facility that accepts animals scheduled to be euthanized at other shelters and helps find them homes. The funds cover veterinary care and occasional surgeries.

“It’s very hard on us,” staffer Andi Sykes said. “It’s very heartbreaking to know when you thought you could trust someone with the animals, the things that are for the animals.”

The group might have more fundraisers earlier this year to help close the shortfall. Sykes said there are no plans to cut back on services.

The missing money came from a pet spay and neuter program as well as adoption fees and donations, Sykes said. The organization’s typical operating expenses are about $8,000 a month.

Chapman had been serving as the head dog volunteer at the organization for 10 months.

The investigation started when fellow staff members started noticing money disappearing after she had been working by herself, Sykes said. Investigators set up a video camera and staff left $30 in the till. The camera caught images of Chapman entering the office and going to the area where the key was stored, court documents state.

The organization serves St. George and Washington County, and took in about 366 cats and 170 dogs last year.

The story was first reported by the Spectrum of St. George.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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