Carper said future organizers of the event must prove to be competent and scrupulous if they are to receive county funding.
Starks' plea agreement, released publicly Friday, is dated May 18 - four days after the commission agreed to provide Multifest with the additional funds.
Multifest's corporate status was revoked in 1999 and reinstated only last year. Additionally, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant sent Multifest organizers a letter in August 2011, stating that the festival was not properly recognized as a charitable organization and should not be soliciting donors.
However, the registration issues appear to have been resolved for now. The Secretary of State's Office now recognizes Multifest as a nonprofit charitable organization. The event received more than $100,000 in total contributions, according to its most recent financial report. The registration as a charitable organization expires in May.
Stephen Starks is listed as president and incorporator. Vicky Keene, of 501 Nancy Street, is listed as the event's secretary. Lenora Horton, of 1631 Red Oak Street, is listed as treasurer and Joseph Loyd, of Bidwell, Ohio, is listed as vice president.
Other than a listing for her apparent email address under the organization's contact information, Debbie Starks is not listed as an officer of Multifest, despite representations by prosecutors that she is the treasurer.
Keene, Horton and Loyd could not be reached for comment. A phone call placed to the organization was not returned.
During Friday's hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eumi L. Choi said Starks had a "concerning" criminal history that included a string of worthless-check charges. U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver set Starks' bail at $10,000 and warned her that it will be immediately revoked if she bounces another check.
As part of the plea, Starks agreed to repay the full $128,626 in unreported income to the IRS and $306,872 to Multifest, with the latter sum presumably paid back to the event's sponsors. Carper and U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said it's unlikely that the Starks have enough assets to immediately make up for the loss.
"If they have the money to pay for restitution, I'll be pleasantly surprised, shocked and stunned," Carper said.
Starks agreed to cooperate with the government in future investigations with the understanding that she may be named as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in other grand jury proceedings.
Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.tay...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.