Former Director and Daughter Charged in Theft from Poverty Agency

Federal prosecutors say the former head of a poverty agency in Jefferson County and her daughter have agreed to plead guilty in a nearly $500,000 theft.

Authorities say 63-year-old Ruth Gayle Cunningham has agreed to repay $492,195 to the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, where she was director for more than 20 years before quitting in March. JCCEO is a community action agency that administers programs including Head Start, for low-income and disadvantaged residents.

Her 31-year-old daughter, Kelli E. Caufield, agreed to repay $253,499 to the agency.

Prosecutors said Friday the women have agreed to plead guilty to stealing money from a government program that receives federal assistance.

Authorities say Caufield prepared false invoices that her mother submitted to the agency to get money she wasn't due.

Two men from are charged in a mortgage fraud scheme that led to the fraud being uncovered.