Woman charged in Special Olympics embezzlement

BUCKHANNON — A local woman was arrested and arraigned Friday afternoon after reportedly confessing to the felony embezzlement of $17,024.07 from the Upshur County Special Olympics. Charliena Jane Helmick Gilmore, age 43, now faces a term of imprisonment of one to ten years for the ongoing theft of funds that allegedly took place between December 2015 and February 2019.

According to current Upshur County Special Olympics (UCSO) Director Alisa Lively, the accused resigned from her position as the former UCSO Director back in March.  When the new administration took over, accounting discrepancies were soon noticed.  Gilmore subsequently admitted to converting large amounts of the group’s money for her own use.

Gilmore allegedly confessed to the embezzlement of funds from the group, who agreed not to prosecute her if the money was repaid by May 15, 2020.  A Restitution Agreement was drafted and notarized on May 9, 2019, which would require Gilmore to make monthly payments in the amount of $1,418.70, beginning June 14, 2019. The defendant reportedly made that first payment, but failed to comply with repayment as planned in August.  When Gilmore breached the contract, the matter was handed over to law enforcement as promised. 

After investigating Gilmore’s embezzlement and her failure to comply with the Restitution Agreement, Upshur County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Mark Davis filed a criminal complaint against Gilmore.  The accused was reportedly afforded the opportunity to get her affairs in order and was permitted to turn herself in to authorities at the Upshur County Courthouse on Friday, November 15.  

UCSO Director Lively gave the following statement:  “Our number one goal is to maintain the integrity of the programs and services that we provide to the special needs community of Upshur County and, most importantly, continue to meet their expectations of offering preparation, equipment needs, and participation in state competitions, along with opportunities to gather monthly at their fun and educational events.”

Lively added that Gilmore, the former UCSO Director, has not been associated with the volunteer organization since this past March and the state Special Olympics office now manages their bank account.  She stated that a check was given to UCSO for the full remaining balance Gilmore owed as a result of the embezzlement on Thursday, November 14.

Gilmore and her mother, as well as several of her other family members, have all reportedly resigned from their board and volunteer positions with Special Olympics.  Lively wants the community to be confident in the group’s activities and accounting going forward and stated, “I just don’t want this to affect the kids in the long run.”

Attorney Daya Wright represents the Upshur County Special Olympics pro bono. Wright confirmed that Gilmore made full restitution to the organization by check on Thursday before she surrendered herself for arrest.  Wright stated, “The Special Olympics just wanted their money back. This was about restorative justice, not punitive.” 

Gilmore gave the following statement, which she also shared publicly to her Facebook page: “A few years ago during a very dark part of my life, I made some poor decisions for which I apologize.  These decisions have caused my life to fall apart. I have since corrected my actions.  Each day is a struggle. I try to face each day knowing it is a new day with new possibilities.  One day I will get past this. For now I thank my family and friends for sticking by me and knowing mistakes happen.  I hope this is a lesson that all decisions have consequences and life will go on.”

Magistrate Kay Hurst set a $50,000 cash or surety bond at Gilmore’s Friday afternoon hearing, which she posted before the close of business and then went home.  Follow The Record Delta for continued updates in the case as they unfold. 


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