Warrant issued for ex-Bethany College employee

WELLSBURG – Brooke County Magistrate Court officials confirmed Friday an arrest warrant has been issued for the former Bethany College employee suspected of embezzling more than $500,000.

A magistrate issued the warrant for Shelly Lough of West Liberty Thursday. It is not known when she may be taken into custody.

Brooke County Prosecutor Joe Barki has not elaborated on how Lough allegedly embezzled the money, saying more information will be made available after deputies serve the warrant and she is formally charged.

Lough managed the college cashier’s office, and according to a statement from Bethany College President Scott Miller, the thefts came from a “cash window” where students and staff cashed payroll and personal checks.

Two Ohio residents are also targeted in the investigation. It is unclear what charges may be brought against those individuals or when charges will be filed. The alleged embezzlement is suspected to be a part of a larger criminal operation, Barki said.

The college discovered the missing money in May during an external audit. Officials suspected Lough and moved her to another position in the finance department. She continued to work, but did not have access to cash or financial accounts, Bethany Vice President Sven de Jong said.

Lough reportedly confessed to embezzling the funds in an interview with the school’s legal counsel and outside accountants about two months after the money was noticed to be missing, according to de Jong. Her employment immediately was terminated and the case was referred to Barki’s office.

The college’s director of finance also was fired for lack of financial oversight.

He is not suspected of any crime.