NR 17-11 Former Brevard Public Schools Bookkeeper Arrested for Fraud Related Crimes

March 16, 2017 - 10:00 am Author: Category:

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Economic Crimes Task Force has culminated an investigation into the allegations of embezzlement of funds with the arrest of a former Brevard Public Schools bookkeeper. Agents arrested 50-year-old Patricia Marie Coleman of 3060 Cavel Street, West Melbourne, earlier today after an arrest warrant was issued by a judge charging her with Aggravated White Collar Crime, Scheme to Defraud over $50,000.00, Money Laundering, Depositing a check with the intent to Defraud (89 counts), Forgery (6 counts), Uttering a Forged Check (53 counts), Criminal Use of Personal ID Info over $5,000 (3 counts), Grand Theft over $20,000.00, Grand Theft over $300.00 (19 counts). 

Coleman was transported to the Brevard County Jail Complex on a $1,073,000.00 Bond.

The investigation was initiated in August of 2016, after the Brevard County Public School District was contacted by the newly appointed treasurer of the All Florida Junior Rodeo Association (AFJRA). BPS was advised that the AFJRA had concerns that Coleman had embezzled monies from the Association while serving as the former treasurer. There were also concerns that Coleman might be comingling funds between AFJRA and accounts from the Cape Coast Conference and Eau Gallie High School, where she was also employed as bookkeeper

Based on this information, BPS conducted an audit of both the Cape Coast Conference account and the Eau Gallie High School general/internal accounts. The audit resulted in irregularities and concerning transactions, at which time BPS contacted the Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Task Force and a criminal investigation was initiated.

The investigation has revealed that over a two-year period covering the 2014-2015 through 2016-2017 school years, Coleman embezzled $96,592.58 from Eau Gallie High School and $22,825.68 from the Cape Coast Conference. Further investigation also determined that Coleman embezzled over $50,000.00 while acting as treasurer for two Rodeo associations.

The Task Force found that Coleman used various methods to avoid detection. She would comingle funds between all four accounts and divert checks received from the intended accounts to her own personal accounts. Many of the accounts required two signatures, however, Coleman bypassed this procedure in many cases by using a stamp for the second signature or in some instances, by forging the signature of the co-signer. Coleman diverted cash received from home athletic contests and fundraising efforts by making smaller deposits into multiple accounts. Coleman also falsified receipts in order to issue checks, which she deposited in her personal accounts.

Coleman resigned from BPS on September 2, 2016. She was hired by BPS in April of 1990 and has been assigned to Eau Gallie High School since June of 1999.

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Task Force is comprised of investigators from the Sheriff’s Office, Titusville Police Department, Melbourne Police Department, Cocoa Police Department and a dedicated attorney from the State Attorney’s Office.

Sheriff Ivey stated, “I am very proud of everyone involved in this investigation, the Economic Crimes Task Force concept was created with exactly these types of crimes and predators in mind. Anyone who preys on our citizens and the good nature of parents, students and volunteers who provide so much financial support for school, student and child related programs truly deserve some special law enforcement attention.” 

EDR/Crosspointe Software Purchase by Brevard Public Schools Investigation 

The Sheriff’s Office is also releasing the findings of another investigation involving Brevard Public Schools. In April of 2015, the Economic Crimes Task Force initiated an investigation concerning allegations of fraud regarding the EDR/Crosspointe software purchased by Brevard Public Schools during 2013. The allegations were related to concerns over the price, functionality and research or knowledge of the software prior to purchase. There was an additional concern that the purchase was addressed as an upgrade to an existing service contract rather than a new purchase, thus eliminating the bidding process.

The investigation determined that the School Board contracted with EDR/Crosspointe for services to include software development. EDR/Crosspointe has contracted with other school districts who either have or are using the developed software. It was found that the software or a portion thereof, was delivered to the School District. The purchase was voted upon and approved by the Brevard County School Board during an open and public meeting. The School Board was aware that this was a new software package and that Brevard County was a pilot site.

After discussion with the State Attorney’s Office and the U. S. Department of Education, the investigative findings do not support any allegation that the purchase of the software was a Scheme to Defraud or included any criminal conduct. NR 17-11 2015-377646 Case Report

For additional information concerning this News Release, please call PIO Tod Goodyear of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office at 321-501-7594.