American Horse Council Staff Member
A former American Horse Council staff member allegedly stole more than $588,000 to fund her “lavish lifestyle,” according to a suit filed last week.
The American Horse Council, Inc. and its Foundation filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Colorado against its former communications director Ashley Furst and her husband, Christopher.
The AHC accuses the Highland Ranches couple of using the “stolen funds to make large purchases and support a lifestyle they could not otherwise afford”. That includes a home they purchased for $630,000 in 2017 as well as two luxury vehicles.
In 2010, AHC hired Furst, née Cole. She worked from the Washington, D.C. office until 2017, when she began working from Colorado. The complaint states that Furst “orchestrated a complex and carefully-planned criminal enterprise,” that lasted nearly five years.
Even more, AHC didn’t learn it was missing hundreds of thousands of dollars until June 2018, which led to Furst’s termination.
AHC discovered five ways in which Furst allegedly stole funds, including making over $440,000 in direct electronic payments from two AHC accounts to pay Furst’s personal accounts. Afterward, she falsified AHC financial records in an attempt to hide the transfers.
Furst allegedly stole over $63,000 in forged checks and another $53,000 in PayPal transfers from AHC’s account. A self-appointed pay raise added another $29,000 to her fraud.
Using AHC’s investment account as collateral, Furst allegedly attempted to cover her tracks with a $350,000 loan agreement on behalf of the AHC. It was approved although the group canceled it once Furst’s alleged fraud was discovered.
The AHC reported Furst’s theft to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has reportedly opened an investigation.
The plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief, treble damages, and a jury trial.