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Cleveland Beer Week director accused of stealing $40,000 in scholarship money

Christine Montague, 48, is accused of stealing more than $40,000 from Cleveland Beer Week's scholarship funds. Christine MontagueBedford City Jail  CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The program director of Cleveland Beer Week is accused of stealing $40,000 in charitable donations that the organization uses to fund scholarships. Christine Montague, 48, is charged with grand theft and forgery. She is scheduled for arraignment Sept. 21 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Montague stole $44,849 from Cleveland Beer Week during a two-year span from January 2014 to the end of 2015, according to court records. Montague, who served as the program's director since 2009, siphoned funds donated to the organization for the Malone Foundation scholarship program, according to court records. She earned a $10,000 yearly salary to serve as the program's director and the public face of the event giving interviews to media outlets promoting the event. But instead of sending the payments to the scholarship fund, she paid herself, according to a Bedford Heights police investigation. Montague was arrested Aug. 8 and is free on a $25,000 surety bond. She did not immediately return a call seeking comment. John Lane, of the Winking Lizard, who is one of four operating board members for Cleveland Beer Week, said he couldn't elaborate on the charges or how the organization found out about the missing money. Bedford Heights police did not provide a copy of the police report on Thursday. "We absolutely can't do as much for the charity," Lane said. "We're trying to keep our momentum going forward and just move on." Another board member, Ed Thompkins of Heinen's, said the theft has not impacted this year's Beer Week, set for Oct. 14 through Oct. 22. "Basically, we're still going full steam ahead," Thompkins said. To comment on this story, please visit our crime and courts comments section. Read more..

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