West Lawrence Water Co-operative Employee Accused of Stealing $500,000 from Co-op

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Laura Dawson (Photo: Lawrence County Jail)

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – The attorney for the Board of Directors of the West Lawrence Water Co-operative reports that former office manager Laura Dawson has been arrested for theft of more than $500,000 from the Co-op.

The attorney for the board of directors reported discrepancies in deposits and receipts were brought to its attention in December, 2013.  That caused the board to immediately order an audit of deposits and receipts from that date backwards.

Following an internal investigation that included the services of an auditor, the findings were forwarded to law enforcement authorities in mid-January, 2014. Laura Dawson was then terminated as an employee of West Lawrence Water Co-operative.

The attorney for the board of directors reports both the internal investigation and the audit do not indicate that anyone other than Dawson was involved in the theft.

Internal measures were in place to protect against employee theft, but Dawson found a way to conceal her actions, according to the statement released.

The amount stolen is expected to exceed $500,000.00 over a period of several years.  Despite that amount stolen, the financial stability of the Co-op remains sound.  The Co-op, its board, officers and employees will continue to work fully with law enforcement officials and the Co-op’s insurance company to recover completely the money taken.


  • Skillpot

    Maybe the Board attorney, and the Board Members should be held accountable, since they did not have internal controls over the financial matters of the Co-op? That was their responsibility to ensure that adequate controls were in effect!

    • Jim

      “Internal measures were in place to protect against employee theft, but Dawson found a way to conceal her actions, according to the statement released.” – It sounds like they had control in place. If someone is on the inside they will find ways to do it if they want to steal. Even the most robust systems can be compromised if someone is willing to do that..

      • eurekadog

        There are “internal controls” and, then, there are “internal controls”. Too many companies, churches, organizations that have a single person controlling the books and many are in denial and think “It’ll never happen to us.”, …. but, given enough time, it will. Nobody wants to move to dual-signature checks. Nobody wants to use PO’s. Nobody likes to pay the money, but hiring an outside third party to perform an annual in-depth audit is a starting point.

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