Former PRHA employee faces embezzlement charges

Kimberly A. Ward (Photo courtesy: Portsmouth Police)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – A former employee of the Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority faces charges of embezzlement.

A grand jury has charged Kimberly Ann Ward with four felony counts of misusing her agency credit card.

The PRHA hired Ward last year even though she had a criminal past, a felony criminal record for embezzlement from 2006 in Norfolk.

PRHA gave Ward a position where she would have one of the organization’s 11 credit cards. Councilman Bill Moody says the PRHA should have dug deeper and at least watched her closely.

There should have been some oversight, knowing that if somebody’s got a past like that,” Moody told 10 On Your Side Friday afternoon. “You certainly want to keep a close rein on any opportunity of mismanagement of money.”

According to court documents, investigators found evidence this past March 31 to support the indictment – transactions totaling about $8,000 with Ward’s PRHA purchasing card.

The agency terminated Ward, but did not pursue charges against her.  We went to Ward’s home in Chesapeake, and left a voicemail for her.

“’I’m a little disturbed that (the PRHA) chose not to press charges over the theft of $8,000. I think they owe the public and council an explanation,” Moody said.

We contacted PRHA Executive Director Edward Bland. Both he and the head of his board, Davy Smith, have no comment, saying the matter remains under investigation.

Portsmouth authorities issued a fugitive warrant for Ward. She has since turned herself in and has a trial date scheduled in October.