LAKELAND, FL - July 9, 2020 - According to an online news report posted on Patch.com, Polk County Sheriff's deputies placed a former church secretary under arrested for multiple criminal offenses. The 62-year-old woman is facing several financial criminal charges. Initially, the Polk County Sheriff's Office charged the 62-year-old woman with fraudulent use of credit cards, amongst other criminal charges, according to authorities. The total amount of money the suspect allegedly stole from the church is $768,050.
According to the police news release, the defendant, a 62-year-old Lakeland, Florida, began work at the Calvary Baptist Church in Winter Haven, Florida as a finance secretary. The church is located on Overlook Drive Southeast. The police news release stated that the defendant used the church's cash for purchasing items on Amazon, PayPal, Match.com, QVC, and several other retail purchases.
The case began in 2019 when church staff noticed on a digital image of the church's bank statements an active credit line of $225,000. The credit line was also connected to a different bank account that didn't belong to the Calvary Baptist Church. The head deacon of Calvary Baptist Church requested additional copies of the church's bank statements. According to law enforcement, when the defendant became suspicious that the church was auditing the financial records, the defendant retired.
The Calvary Baptist Church staff then call the police and asked for an investigation into the probable embezzlement of the church's funds. Police detectives began the investigation, discovering that the credit line was being used by the defendant to steal money from the church. The credit line currently has an outstanding balance of $190,000, and Calvary Baptist Church is responsible for paying off the balance.
According to statements made by the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the different credit cards and bank account records showed numerous charges.
The total of the amount of funds stolen from the church is $768,050.73. More than $600,000.00 of the money was confirmed. There are additional charges still pending a complete audit and analysis of all financial records collected during the police investigation.
According to law enforcement, the former church secretary has been charged with the following crimes.
- Criminal use of personal ID,
- Fraudulent use of credit cards,
- Grand theft over $100,000,
- Money laundering, and
- Uttering false instruments.
The The 62-year-old woman was arrested, booked, and taken to the Polk County Jail. The Polk County Sheriff's Office did not provide a booking photograph of the defendant.