By Paul Garrod
LAWTON – The former director/coordinator of the Lawton Community Center faces felony embezzlement charges following her arrest last October by the Lawton Police Department.
Ryan Kay Caldwell, 43, of Lawton, is accused of embezzling approximately $14,725 from the community center, 646 Nursery St., as she booked wedding events and other special occasions.
In a report filed by the Lawton Police Department, Caldwell told authorities that she began taking the money from the community center at the end of 2019, until a few months before she was terminated from her position, which she had held for many years, on June 23, 2021. She told police that she took the money through Venmo, PayPal or cash. Earlier, in May of 2021, Caldwell, unexpectedly announced that she would be retiring from the community center but would remain on during a transition phase during the hiring of a new director. The police report said Caldwell quit her position during the third week of June, negating her agreement with the committee.
Police reported that on several occasions, Caldwell was paid cash by clients for booking the venue, which the money collected was not reported on deposits for the community center.
The incident came to light after Bruce Marks, president of the Lawton Lions Club, received a phone call from a client seeking a refund. According to records compiled by Caldwell, the client still owed approximately $5,500, which Caldwell allegedly kept. The client provided receipts of payments to Marks.
Caldwell turned herself in to the Lawton Police Department on Oct. 7, 2021. She posted a cash bond of $7,500.