Faith Equestrian founder at center of financial controversy

Current board chair & others claim misappropriation of funds by former CEO/Executive Director

Faith Equestrian founder at center of financial controversy

GUYTON, Ga. (WTOC) - According to Karen Signal despite reading a letter to the Faith Equestrian Board Wednesday evening asking them to step down no board members yielded their seats.

Signal was then voted out as Board Chair and Tom Keathley was appointed to take her place.

With the board refusing to yield their seats current executive director Fran Todd resigned from her position along with all but one other paid staff member with Faith Equestrian.

The below letter was sent to WTOC by Trevor Hess following our report as a response to the claims made by Tom Keathley.

Response by Trevor Hess
Response by Trevor Hess (Source: WTOC)
Page 2 Response by Trevor Hess
Page 2 Response by Trevor Hess (Source: WTOC)

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Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center in Guyton uses horses to help disabled children and military veterans.

Just months ago WTOC was there as they asked for the community’s help to make it through the pandemic financially.

But now they and their former CEO are at the center of a controversy.

The issue?

A claim of thousands of dollars being misappropriated.

Something board members say just isn’t true, but has others threatening to resign.

For volunteers and staff at Faith their memories are fond.

“To this point the experiences I’ve had at Faith have been wonderful,” said volunteer coordinator April McKinnon.

“Up until now this has been an amazing place to work,” added program director Hallie Myers.

But they say their worry is soon they may become just that, memories.

“Personally, if this doesn’t get resolved I can’t stay here,” said Myers.

She isn’t alone, others say they’re thinking of leaving following an audit that current Board Chair Karen Signal claims uncovered something concerning.

“We were informed at that time that there was a misappropriation of funds and it involved one of the officers on the board.”

That officer, the organization’s founder and former CEO Bonnie Rachael.

The funds, Signal claims, totaling $16 thousand.

Claims that current board member Tom Keathley denies.

“The auditors never mentioned misappropriations of funds from anyone at Faith and they never mentioned any amount of money that was misappropriated.”

However, Signal feels there was plenty of evidence that she herself tried to present the board.

“There were checks made out by the former CEO that she had written to herself and signed herself that were not approved by the board and the board had no knowledge of.”

But not enough for Keathley and other board members.

“That was simply accusations made by a single board member,” said Keathley.

So, the issue comes to a head Wednesday night when Signal and others, including current executive director Fran Todd, will make a final stand.

“We’re going to try and make one last attempt, one last plea for them to yield their seats to keep this program and make sure these staff have a job tomorrow morning.”

But instead it may be in fact Signal who loses her seat on the board.

“We do intend to remove Karen, in the board meeting this evening.”

Keathley cites priorities and objectives that don’t align with the mission of the board and questions the motivation of those standing with Signal.

“We just question whether or not those people truly have the interest of Faith in mind because it will hurt Faith.”

Leaving those on both sides fearing the same thing, what’s next for Faith and those who love it.

Wednesday’s board meeting is at 5:30 p.m.

Signal says, there will however be a gathering of support held before the meeting at Faith Equestrian starting at 5 p.m.

Signal has alerted agencies such as the IRS about what she believes was a misappropriation of funds.

Keathley says the board will take a closer look at the issue during the board meeting but so far they only mistake he has seen was an overspending on a trailer which Rachael has told them she will repay.

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