Scandal at a Center
Ex-Gateway Official Charged With Fraud
On Oct. 7, Darlene Armstrong, 36, the former
director of finance at the Gateway Convention Center in
Collinsville, Ill., pleaded not guilty to Federal grand jury
charges she embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the
center between January 2002 and May 2004.
The indictment claimed Armstrong used her position to “steal,
take and convert the cash proceeds” of Gateway’s expositions,
conventions and trade shows to buy a Cadillac Escalade, a Ford
Thunderbird, a Lexus RX 330 SUV, plasma screen TVs and more.
Further, Armstrong allegedly cashed Gateway checks made out to
herself after forging supervisors’ signatures. While FBI
investigators estimated the loss to the Gateway Center to be at
least $200,000, the total was still being calculated late last
“We haven’t seen that any exhibitors or customers were
defrauded,” said John Bitzer, chairman of the Collinsville
Convention Authority, which oversees center operations. “She was
stealing strictly Gateway’s cash.”
As a result of accounting inconsistencies related to the case,
Gateway officials said a planned $7 million, 23,500-square-foot
expansion of the facility would be delayed until completion of an
At press time, Armstrong remained free on an unsecured bond; no
trial date had been set.