Freight House attorney details embezzlement investigation
DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The former executive director of the Freight House Farmers’ Market is facing a felony charge and ten years in prison after police say she embezzled more than $10,000.
Lorraine R. Beaman, 60, is charged with first-degree theft, a Class C felony.
Court documents state Beaman used the money to remodel and buy items for her personal business, Chill Ice Cream & Eats. That business has since closed. According to the affidavit, she also bought personal items including a trailer from her son for an inflated price, an Apple TV, resume builders, and attorney fees for her nonprofit.
The attorney representing the Freight House said the investigation began after conflicts between accounting and Beaman.
“It started with some vendors noticing some conflicts with Miss Beaman and maybe some of the accounting going on so they started delving into some of the financial documents for the market. Once they did they noticed some misappropriation of funds and Lori was terminated on August 19th of 2022,” said Catherine Zamora Cartee, the attorney representing the Freight House.
After legal counsel, investigators completed forensic accounting of financial records over the course of Beaman’s role as director of the farmers market.
“I met with the executive board and the board based on our review of the forensic accounting and to me it was clear that there was some misappropriation of funds by Miss Beaman,” Cartee said, “I advised the board that they probably needed to file a criminal complaint and the reason why I thought they should file a criminal complaint is that they are a board at the Freight House, however, they have a fiduciary duty to all of the members and vendors at the Freight House and that duty also includes whether they wanted to or not, finding out where the money went that had been misappropriated.”
A criminal complaint was filed with Davenport Police, which later turned over the investigation results to the Scott County attorney’s office.
“We made the city aware the day that I went down to the police department that this was happening. I went and talked to the mayor and said, ‘Hey I need to talk to you’ so we gave Corri [Speigel] and the mayor a heads up right before we filed the charges so they were aware of it. I didn’t want to blindside them,” said Cartee.
Meanwhile, Cartee says Freight House board members all signed a non-disclosure agreement about the case.
“The board members had all signed a non-disclosure agreement so they were not at liberty to tell anybody what was going on. So, there was a lot of faction amongst all the vendors because they didn’t understand what was going on but obviously, no one could say anything. I think they were very frustrated that they weren’t receiving the whole story, however, there was a very legitimate reason they were not talking about it,” Cartee said.
Court records show she will be arraigned on Feb. 23.
Tammy Mutka, A Freight House Farmers’ Market vendor since 2016 said, “I am very proud of the Freight House Farmers Market and am deeply saddened by the recent news of the embezzlement that occurred. Our board and vendors all work very hard to ensure that we are a thriving market and give back to the community. The FHFM is a not-for-profit organization. In a way, we are a family. I have become friends with many of the other vendors and stay in touch outside of the market and outside of the market season.
To hear that the market coordinator has embezzled funds from the market affects all of us. So many vendors rely on the market for their income. The theft that occurred was not from a corporation with no face or name, but from many farmers, artists, crafters, bakers, your neighbors, and your friends. The farmers market makes its income from the rents that vendors pay. In order to cover the embezzlement, the rents will have to go up for all of us. It is very sad that someone you trusted would do this. I feel especially sad for the board and those who volunteer and work tirelessly to see that this market grows and continues to give back to the community. I hope that they know that the vendors are grateful for all that they do.
I have faith though in this community. We help and support each other and will get through this. The Freight House Farmers Market was out there at the forefront of Covid making masks and distributing them to businesses. Yes – this is a little bit of a gut punch, but just as the Mississippi River has taken over the market and we have had to adjust, we will adjust and overcome this. The vendors will be back and the market will continue to grow and flourish.”
TV6 reached out to Beaman for comment and did not hear back.
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