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Arrest warrant issued for former Dryades YMCA financial officer, NOPD says

Catrina Reed allegedly falsified criminal background checks for herself and James Singleton Charter School employees
Credit: Facebook

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Police Department said a warrant was issued Tuesday for the arrest of Catrina Reed, the long-time chief financial officer of the Dryades YMCA, for allegedly fabricating criminal background checks for herself and other employees of the public charter school at the Y.

The warrant seeks Reed’s arrest on 12 counts of injuring public records and a count of theft, NOPD spokesman Gary Scheets confirmed. The warrant was issued a little more than two months after a criminal complaint was filed by the head of school at James Singleton Charter School alleging that 11 employees’ background checks had been falsified.

Reed served as the Dryades YMCA’s chief financial officer from 2006 to 2019, then worked for the Y as a consultant making more than $7,500 per month and then was hired back as CFO in 2020 at a salary of $100,000, according to a recent audit by New Orleans Public Schools. The Dryades YMCA, one of a handful of historically Black YMCAs still open in the country, holds the charter for Singleton.

The Y has come under fire for years for blending its finances with the school’s, faced a standardized test cheating scandal in 2018 and had students injured in 2019 when an unlicensed driver with a criminal record crashed a school bus on the High Rise. But it has managed to hold onto the charter thanks to improved student test scores and better academic achievement over the last two school years.

But NOLA Public Schools issued a letter to the school March 10 stating the background checks it reviewed could not be authenticated. The NOPD collected evidence about the background checks from Singleton Head of School Erika Mann on March 16. A few days later, Reed and longtime chief executive officer Doug Evans suddenly announced they were leaving the YMCA.

Records provided to NOPD by Mann showed that Reed’s criminal background check from 2005 listed no rap sheet, even though federal court records indicate she had pleaded guilty in 1996 to robbing a bank where she worked.

Emails in the police report show that Reed controlled the background checks for school employees and Mann had to collect them from Reed.

Mann ordered new background checks directly from Louisiana State Police, including one for Reed. The new one contradicted the one on file from before Reed was hired by the Y. The new background check showed Reed had been arrested in 1996 for bank fraud, bank larceny and embezzlement and in 1999 for larceny.

A review by the school district last year found a recent Singleton hire had a criminal record involving a crime against a minor. That led Mann to request background checks for all employees who had been working for the school for more than five years.

According to the police report, the school district identified several discrepancies in the old background checks, such as duplicate audit codes that are supposed to be unique for each employee and incorrect State Police signatures.

Mann reported that she compared the new background checks with the old ones and found five of the employees had criminal records that didn’t appear in the background checks provided by Reed.

NOPD spokesman Aaron Looney confirmed Wednesday that the theft charge is for money Reed allegedly "collected for background checks that were never performed."

Reed resigned suddenly from her position at the YMCA in March, just days before a board meeting where WWL-TV questioned leaders about the allegations of falsified background checks. The TV station has tried several times over the last two months to speak with Reed, to hear her side of the story. When the station obtained the police report last month and called Reed’s home phone number, a man who identified himself as Reed’s husband told WWL-TV to stop calling.

The station tried the same number again Tuesday but nobody answered.