A Forsyth County couple that once headed the prominent local “wish granting” charity organization Kingdom Kids Charity Inc., is now in Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office custody accused of diverting donations worth more than $218,000 for their personal gain.
Kingdom Kids CEO Kevin Ford, 39, of Alpharetta, and his wife, Jodi Ford, 39, of Cumming, were taken into custody at about 3 p.m. on Friday for charges of theft by taking, according to sheriff’s office spokesman Cpl. Doug Rainwater.
The Fords are accused of using the non-profit’s funds to pay down their personal debt and to purchase thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise “unrelated to the operation of the non-profit,” Rainwater said.
Kingdom Kids Charity Inc., was reportedly started in 2009 to “improve the quality of life for children facing challenging circumstances” and had as its primary fundraiser the annual event Lily’s Run, which was started to support Lily Anderson, a Forsyth County resident who had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the age of 8.
Now investigators with the sheriff’s office’s High Tech/Financial Crimes Unit have allegedly determined that between August 2012 and July 2019, more than $218,000 was siphoned from the nonprofit by the Fords and used to repay credit cards, make purchases on Amazon and iTunes and withdraw cash from ATMs.
Prior to their arrest, in June and August the Fords also became embroiled in a lawsuit in Forsyth County Superior Court after both individuals came forward with allegations that the other had stolen or embezzled charitable donations meant to be used by the charity to grant wishes for sick and dying children.
On July 22, lawyers representing Kingdom Kids Charity and Kevin Ford alleged that Jodi Ford embezzled $130,000 in charitable donations over an unknown time period.
Nearly a month later, attorneys representing Jodi Ford denied the allegations in a counter-complaint, claiming that as CEO, Kevin Ford opened, controlled and maintained all of the banking accounts where Kingdom Kids funds were held.
Further accusations of identity fraud were raised against the charity CEO and his wife after authorities were notified that several individuals were listed as board members of Kingdom Kids Charity Inc, “without their consent or knowledge.”
According to data from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Corporations Division, aside from CEO Kevin Ford, the Kingdom Kids Charity Inc., officer list includes two other individuals, a CFO and secretary.
One of the individuals, who was listed as CFO of Kingdom Kids, previously told the FCN that she was only a regular volunteer with the yearly Lily’s Run event and had no participation in the operation of Kingdom Kids.
She also stated that after the original lawsuit was filed both Jodi and Kevin Ford contacted her, each stating the other had listed her as CFO without her consent.
Another individual, who was listed as the charity’s secretary, did not return the FCN’s request for comment, but a source close to the organization disputed the individual’s title, stating it too was likely conferred to her without her knowledge.
Rainwater said that due to the financial complexity of the situation, the sheriff’s office’s High Tech/Financial Crimes Unit was “instrumental” in investigating the case and making the arrests.
Both Kevin and Jodi Ford were being held in the Forsyth County Jail under no bond as of press time Friday.
Attorney Logan Butler, who represents Kevin Ford and Kingdom Kids, said on Friday that he was aware that warrants had been filed against the Fords but that he could not comment further.
An attorney for Jodi Ford could not be reached for comment as of press time Friday.