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Former Briarcliff HS Student Sentenced in Embezzlement Case

Ralph Clark sentenced to two years and six months in prison for embezzling more than $1.1 million from the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown.

The Midtown nonprofit arts center includes the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Alliance Theatre, High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. Credit: Hunt Archbold
The Midtown nonprofit arts center includes the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Alliance Theatre, High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. Credit: Hunt Archbold
The former Woodruff Arts Center facilities director who last year pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $1.1 million from the Midtown organization has been sentenced to two years and six months in prison.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ralph Clark, 42, of Ellenwood, Ga., was also ordered to pay approximately $1 million in restitution and serve three years of supervised release following his incarceration.

After he admitted to his crime last spring, it was reported Clark could have gone to prison for up to 10 years.

When the Woodruff announced in late 2012 that it had been defrauded, the news came at a "touchy time" regarding the finances of the nonprofit arts center that includes the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Alliance Theatre, High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. 

When Clark went before Chief U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes in 2013 to admit his guilt, he mentioned he had attended Briarcliff High School but did not graduate from college.

According to United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In June 2006, Clark was promoted to director of facilities at the Woodruff. He had been acting in this capacity for several months before he was promoted. 

His duties included ensuring that the Arts Center was properly maintained. As Director of Facilities, he was authorized to approve vendor contracts up to $50,000. While carrying out these duties between November 2005 and October 2012, Clark embezzled money by submitting invoices for bogus expenses to Woodruff Arts Center’s accounts payable department. 

The bogus invoices included invoices from his wife’s business - Lowe’s Services - which was an apartment cleaning business set up by his wife in 2003. The bogus Lowe’s Services invoices were for goods and services that were never provided to the Woodruff Arts Center, or were performed by Clark himself. 

After the accounts payable department received an invoice, it generated checks from Woodruff’s checking account. Clark would then pick the checks up in person, and deposit them into accounts on which he had signatory authority.

“When the defendant embezzled over $1 million from the Woodruff Arts Center, he not only stole from the Arts Center, but the entire community served by the center,” Yates said in a statement. “His greed and betrayal has fairly landed him in prison.”

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