Monday, January 23, 2017

Vanceboro woman charged with embezzling $130k from local church

Craven County sheriff's deputies say a Vanceboro woman has turned herself in after learning she was being sought on charges that she embezzled from a local church.
Capt. John Whitfield told the Sun Journal of New Bern that 47-year-old Jewel Hardy Scott turned herself in Monday.
Scott is charged with four counts of felony embezzlement, two counts felony forgery of instrument, forgery of instrument, and obtaining property by false pretense.
It was not known if she has an attorney.
Investigators say Scott was the financial secretary of Queen Chapel Free Will Baptist Church in Vanceboro from 2012 to 2016.
The sheriff's office said she took $130,000 by writing checks to herself. The church discovered the missing funds when it started receiving notices of insufficient funds and did an audit.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Bail set for former McKeel administrator accused of embezzling more than $100,000

 Bail totaling $39,000 was set for the former McKeel School administrator accused of stealing more than $100,000 from the charter school.

Ginger Collins, 45, faces seven charges of embezzlement with bail amounts ranging from $15,000 to $1,000 on the different charges.
According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the former administrator confessed to stealing the $105,426 when School Director Alan Black confronted her about it. She is accused of creating created fake companies in an attempt to cover up the embezzlement.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the scheme was discovered in early September when McKeel's assistant director of operations, Julie Ehnle, noticed charges for a prom dress and false eyelashes to a school credit card to which Collins had access.

Collins resigned in lieu of termination on Sept. 16.
Collins, prior to changing her name from Rosenau, was hired to teach at Kathleen High School in 2005 and became an administrative assistant there in 2007. She was promoted to assistant principal in 2008. She became principal in October 2012. In 2014, she became the principal of Kathleen Middle School.
She was on leave with Polk County School District when she accepted the job at McKeel.
Collins had not posted bail Wednesday night and was still in the Polk County Jail.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fmr. school administrator charged in embezzlement scheme in Florida

A former charter school administrator was arrested by deputies Tuesday on charges that she defrauded The Schools of McKeel Academy of more than $100,000.
The former Assistant Director of Academics, Ginger Collins, 45, of Lakeland, is accused of creating fake companies to intentionally direct school travel and other discrepancy funds into online banking accounts she created under the names of her co-workers. The total amount of embezzled funds reached $105,426.34.
According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Collins was granted access to five of the school's credit cards in November 2015 to arrange purchases of a faculty trip to Finland and other school-related activities.
The alleged fraud continued until September, 2016 when the accounting department discovered that Collins purchased a prom dress and fake eyelashes. The receipts which Collins filed for the transactions were marked as "Legacy Funds" and "Marketing," which prompted a larger audit of Collins' activity.
The trail led accountants to Collins' planning of the Finland trip scheduled for December 2016 for 18 staff members. Collins used the $150,000 budgeted for the trip, but the school found out that the trip would only cost around $95,000.
Detectives said the remaining $47,000 surplus was hidden through three fake companies Collins with which she would bill her employer. They included 'Elite Travel,' 'Finpedia,' and 'Atticusprint.'
They added that Collins went as far as creating a fake website for Elite Travel through the Square Space domain host. The website hosting fees were also paid through one of the school's credit cards.
Collins would then allegedly funnel the payments for the fraudulent invoices through online processing accounts from SquareUp, PayPal and Stripe which were opened up under the identities of three fellow employees without their knowledge.
From these accounts, Collins moved the money into her checking account and used that money to pay personal bills, buy clothing and home furnishings, according to the affidavit.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Collins purchased items like a "fat blaster" and a knit hat.
"So I guess the fat blaster was so the nitwit would look good in the nitwit hate," Judd said.
With a complete picture of Collins' fraudulent activity, the director of the Schools of McKeel Academy, Alan Black, confronted her about the embezzlement. She confessed to the theft on September 9, 2016 and resigned that day.
The months-long PSO investigation revealed through electronic records that Collins used her work computer to set up the fake payment accounts and submitted invoices with amounts matching the credit card purchases.
Judd said the chances of ever recovering the money are low.
"Sometimes you recover the money; most of the time you don't," he explained.
She was charged with one count of grand theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, money laundering and three counts of criminal use of personal identification.
Collins made an initial court appearance Wednesday, where her bond was set at $39,000.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Former principal charged with embezzling school funds sentenced to jail, probation in Michigan

 A former middle school principal who pleaded guilty to embezzling school funds will be spending the next 30 days in jail for her crime.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Susan Beebe sentenced former Middle School at Parkside principal Kelly Gilliam-Pennington to 330 days in jail, 30 days to be served immediately beginning Wednesday, Jan. 11.

After serving the 30 days in jail, the remainder of her sentence will be suspended while she enters probation for the next five years.

"Being caught is one of the best things that could have happened to me," Gilliam-Pennington said, weeping at the stand. "I know what I did was wrong. There is nobody here more disappointed in me than me."

Gilliam-Pennington pleaded guilty to one felony count of embezzlement of $20,000 or more, but less than $50,000 at a pretrial hearing Dec. 2.

She admitted that between December 2013 and September 2015, while she was Parkside's principal she fraudulently wrote checks out of the school's "Principal Fund" for personal use in excess of $50,000.

In accepting the plea deal, the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office agreed to not pursue a higher charge of embezzling $50,000 or more, but less than $100,000.

"She took $97,362 from the school. That's two to three times what the average Jackson family makes a year," said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Nick Mehalco. "I understand her personal struggles put her in a place where she sought safety in a casino, but it's one thing to have a gambling problem with your own money and it's another when the money is earmarked for kids."

JPS officials reported the alleged embezzlement to police in September 2015 after audits of Parkside's finances turned up irregularities and discrepancies in receipts and checks, JPS Superintendent Jeff Beal has said.

Kelly Gilliam-Pennington, who resigned suddenly from her position at Jackson's Middle School at Parkside last fall, is expected to turn herself in, according to the Jackson Police Department.

JPS already has been made whole by its insurance company for the missing funds, Beal said.

Beebe approved a restitution agreement for Gilliam-Pennington to repay the insurance company more than $84,000, though there may be a hearing in the future for her to pay the whole amount, Mehalco said.

Gilliam joined Parkside in 2013 after working 16 years in Ypsilanti's Willow Run Community Schools, four of which were spent as high school principal.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


A volunteer with the Pine Forest High School Athletic Boosters has been charged with felonious embezzlement.

Latoya Rhodes, 32, was arrested Tuesday by detectives with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office after video evidence allegedly showed her taking money from a concessions stand cash box during sporting events.

Rhodes, of the 2200 block of Brinkley Drive in Spring Lake, was booked into the Cumberland County Jail where she received a $1,000 unsecured bond.

Rhodes made a first court appearance Wednesday.

Monday, January 16, 2017

CMSD employee arrested for alleged embezzlement

An employee of Columbus Municipal School District is accused of embezzling from a local department store when she was an employee there.  

Officers with the Columbus Police Department arrested Rosemarie Prater, 36, of 2923 Military Road, on Tuesday.  

Prater is charged with embezzling about $45,000 from Belk department store in Columbus when she worked there in 2015, said CPD Capt. Brent Swan.  

Prater is a receptionist with CMSD and a member of the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee.  

CMSD Superintendent Philip Hickman did not return calls to The Dispatch regarding Prater's employment status since her arrest.  

CMSD Board of Trustees President Angela Verdell told The Dispatch she could not speak about personnel matters.  

"I don't know who that is," Verdell added in reference to Prater.  

Prater stopped working for Belk in 2015, Swan said. She has worked as a receptionist at CMSD for about a year, according to her application for the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee.  

Prater was released from the Lowndes County Adult Detention Center after posting $50,000 bond Tuesday.  

Sunday, January 15, 2017

No updates in suspected embezzlement at MHS Moorpark High School

Though the investigation continues, police said there was no news to report regarding allegations that workers at stole money from its food services department.

“(There are) no new updates right now. We’re still conducting the investigation,” said Moorpark Police Detective Ken Truitt. “There’s a lot of interviews to conduct . . . and we’re just working with what we have right now.”

Detective Matt Theobald of the Moorpark Police Department said he didn’t know when the investigation would be finished. The suspected crime was reported in November.

“It’s a complex investigation with a lot of information to go through and I don’t expect it to be completed anytime soon,” he said.

Theobald wouldn’t say how many people were involved or how much money was missing.

“(They’re) just estimations. They’re based on speculation, not really based on concrete evidence that we’ve gone through,” the detective said.

MUSD Superintendent Kelli Hays told the Moorpark Acorn in November that the money missing “(appeared) to be an amount that would not have affected the daily operations of past years or this current year’s budget.”

Although the investigation involves Moorpark High, Hays said district officials will keep a closer watch on cash management at the other school sites.

“The district has temporarily changed the control procedures with regard to cash management at the high school until permanent changes are implemented and staff is trained accordingly,” the superintendent said. “The district has taken steps to ensure that any such fraudulent activity has stopped and that any cash collected by food services is properly accounted for and deposited appropriately.”