Economic Crimes Detectives Arrest Clearwater Woman for Theft of Nearly $176,000
Detectives assigned to the Economic Crimes Unit have arrested a Clearwater woman in connection with the theft of nearly $176,000 from her employer - the Golson Law Firm in Clearwater. Detectives began their investigation on March 1, 2010 after the owner of the firm, William Golson, discovered checks in the amount of $34,000 that the suspect had written to herself. He subsequently reported his finding to the Sheriff's Office.
During the course of the investigation detectives were able to determine that while the suspect was gainfully employed by the law firm as an office manager and bookkeeper, with signing privileges on the corporate checking account, she used her position to write dozens of unauthorized checks to herself and to third party companies to whom she owed money. The third parties were mostly credit card companies including: Capital One, CitiCard, CitiFinancial Retail Services, Beneficial Finance, Bank of America, American Express, and Discover Card. She also used the stolen money to make payments to Nelnet, a student loan financing company. Detectives say that the debt on the credit cards included purchases at various stores, supermarkets, hair salons, restaurants, home improvement stores, car rentals, and hotel stays in Orlando, San Francisco, Disney, and Chicago, as well as other expenses while traveling.
The criminal activity occurred over a period of at least six years. Detectives say the suspect, identified as 34-year-old Kerry Sue McCallister-Higgins, was paid for her employment by a separate payroll company, indicating there would be no reason for any checks from the firm to be written out to her name.
According to detectives, of the nearly $176,000 stolen by her from her employer, about $46,000 were in checks written to herself, and about $130,000 were in checks written to the third party companies. The dollar amount of loss to the law firm is expected to increase. McCallister-Higgins was arrested on a probable cause for grand theft at about 8:45 p.m. on Monday, July 19, at her residence. She was transported to the Pinellas County Jail without incident.
The investigation continues.
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