Former leader arrested in theft from Big Brothers / Sisters
WAILUKU » Jeffrey Arnold, executive director on Maui for Big Brothers Big Sisters, has been arrested in Northern California on charges of stealing more than $25,000 from the nonprofit group between Jan. 24, 2002, and Dec. 31, 2003.
Arnold, facing extradition to Maui, is scheduled to appear for arraignment Jan. 4 in Maui Circuit Court on a first-degree theft charge.
He was arrested after failing to show up for a court appearance Wednesday.
Big Brothers Big Sisters board Chairman Brian Garraway said his organization does not know why Arnold would take money from his group or where the funds went.
"That's a big mystery to everybody," Garraway said yesterday. "Hopefully, some of these questions will be answered."
Arnold worked as a volunteer board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters for two to three years before serving as its executive director for 1 1/2 years, Garraway said.
He was asked to resign as executive director in March 2004, Garraway said.
The absence of the funds affected the organization "substantially," Garraway said, forcing it to try to sustain itself for six to eight months.
"We went through some real trying times," he said.
Garraway said the group is stronger than ever now, thanks to support from the community, businesses and government officials.
He said it serves about 250 to 300 children and youths a year through programs that include matching an adult to serve as a role model for a youth or child and spend a certain number of hours with them every week.
Others include a "lunch buddies" program, where an adult meets for lunch with a child or youth once a week, and a mentoring program that has high school students helping elementary school students with their homework.
Garraway said Big BrothersBig Sisters, which is celebrating its 100th birthday nationally, has been on Maui for 35 years.
A Maui grand jury indicted Arnold on Nov. 4 on a first- degree theft charge.
His attorney, David Sereno, who appeared in Maui Circuit Court on Wednesday, said he had made arrangements for voluntary appearance with the prosecutor's office, but Arnold had been unable to get a flight out of California, where he lives.
Sereno was unavailable for comment yesterday.
If convicted, Arnold faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.