Group aiding mentally disabled being sued

Dismissed ARC worker seeks $2.5 million

April 09, 1999|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A former employee at the ARC of Howard County is suing that organization, claiming superiors ignored her attempts to expose theft of funds and then fired her.

Last year, state officials scrutinized ARC after a program coordinator pleaded guilty to stealing more than $19,000 from four mentally disabled people, and a string of thefts from clients were committed by employees and employees' relatives and friends.

ARC is the largest nonprofit source of services for the mentally disabled in Howard County, among them a residential care program.

The former administrative assistant, Linda O'Dell, alleges in a lawsuit filed this week that she warned her supervisor "that certain persons were stealing and misappropriating funds that were to be used for the mentally handicapped."

That supervisor spoke to the executive director, who told O'Dell she would be fired if she ever spoke about the incident again, according to the suit.

The suit does not identify the executive director or the supervisor.

O'Dell and her attorney could not be reached yesterday. ARC officials declined to comment because they had not received a copy of the lawsuit.

Jackie Ring, deputy executive director of ARC, said Carol Beatty was the executive director in 1996. But Ring declined to reveal the supervisor's name.

After alerting ARC officials, O'Dell eventually was forced from her job, according to the suit, which seeks $550,000 in compensatory and $2 million in punitive damages.

Pub Date: 4/09/99

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