Museum credit card used for gambling, personal transactions

Gastonia Police are investigating after an associate at a Gastonia museum allegedly used the museum’s credit card to spend more than $ 35,000 on gambling and other personal transactions.

The African American Museum of History and Culture reported that $ 35,341 of the museum’s funds had been spent without authorization since March 2019, according to a police report. The museum, located on the second floor of the Loray mill, opened to the public on February 16, 2019.

Dot Guthrie, co-founder and curator of the museum, and Charlie Pearson, a member of the museum’s board with a background in finance, reported the missing funds on Wednesday after performing an internal audit.

Police said the person spent the money playing in casinos and withdrew money from the museum’s bank account using an ATM on several occasions.

In an interview on Monday, Guthrie said someone from the African American Museum organization was responsible for the unauthorized expenses, although she did not name the person or their role at the museum. Gastonia police have not laid any criminal charges in this case.

Since founding the museum with her husband, Bobby, Guthrie has organized a number of exhibits, book readings, and other educational programs that detail the history of black culture in Gaston County, as well as in North Carolina and across the United States. The museum is largely dependent on donors and volunteers.

Guthrie, also a member of the Gaston County School Board, said she was devastated to learn of the fraudulent activity. However, she intends to remain optimistic and focus on the museum’s mission.

“I hope this incident does not spoil the excellence of the museum and what we stand for,” she said.

“We know how important it is for our children to have a positive mindset and how important it is for cultures to appreciate diversity. This is what we have done and what we will continue to do.

The names of several donors, volunteers and members of the museum’s planning committee are listed on the museum’s website.

You can reach reporter Gavin Stewart at 704-869-1819 or on Twitter @GavinGazette.

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