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ARREST: Church Employee Suspected Of Stealing Over $750K From Church Accounts

Credit: PCSO/CW44 News At 10

POLK COUNTY (CW44 News At 10) - On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, the Polk County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) fraud detectives obtained an arrest warrant and took 62-year-old Sharon McClelland Bradley of Lakeland into custody for:

Grand theft over $100,000 (F1)
Fraud (F1)
Criminal use of personal ID (F1)
Fraudulent use of credit cards (F3)
Forgery (F3)
Uttering false instrument (F3)
Money laundering (F3)

"This woman systematically stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a respected Winter Haven church for at least five years before she was caught. I cannot fathom how anyone could do this, much less someone employed at a house of faith." - Grady Judd, Sheriff

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In 2008, Bradley was hired as the finance secretary by Calvary Baptist Church (CBC) located at 2101 Overlook Drive SE in Winter Haven. In late 2019, the head deacon requested copies of the church bank statements based on a digital image seen by church staff that showed an active $225,000 line of credit, connected to another bank account that did not belong to CBC.

At that time, Bradley realized an audit was being performed, and she retired. The church staff contacted PCSO to do an investigation into the possible theft of church funds. During early 2020, PCSO detectives sent 20 different subpoenas to the various banks and credit card companies with which CBC had accounts. It was clear that the line of credit Bradley obtained was being used to put money into CBC accounts, which she was then stealing. There is still a balance of $190,000 on the line of credit that CBC will be responsible for paying off.

The different bank and credit card company records showed:

Bradley's credit cards:
In mid-2015, payments from CBC accounts began going to Bradley's Capital One credit card account in May for a total of $19,673.74
In 2016, there was a new Barclay payment along with the Capital One, for $62,104.06
In 2017, new credit card payments were made for $133,936.84
In 2018, the same credit cards and a recurring car payment was made for $151,647.14
In 2019, credit cards and car payments for $114,705.40
2020 was a shorter period due to Sharon Bradley's retirement, for a total of $45,925.37
Total = $527,992.55

Bradley's Mid-Florida Credit Union account:
Checks from CBC accounts were deposited into Sharon Bradley's account for $21,278.69
Cash deposits from cash payments to Calvary preschool between 2016 and 2020 amounting to $89,017.00 were deposited into her accounts
Supporting records maintained by Sharon Bradley confirm cash payments in 2018, 2019, and 2020 that did not get deposited into the CBC accounts
On 11-7-2019, a transfer from the CBC account to Sharon Bradley's personal MFCU account totaling $4,000.00
On 11-28-2019, a transfer from the CBC account to Sharon Bradley's personal MFCU account totaling $3,000.00 - both transfers were payments for new pool at her home
Total = $117,295.69 deposited into the account(s) belonging to Sharon Bradley

CBC's SunTrust Bank account:
In 2015, $15,135.96 in unauthorized purchases for clothing and beauty supplies and QVC products
In 2016, $216.19 in unauthorized purchases to Netflix
In 2017, $1,168.87 in unauthorized purchases to Wayfair, Bed Bath and Beyond, Kirklands
In 2018, $3,084.93 in unauthorized purchases to Amazon, medical expenses, and entertainment
In 2019, $4,433.10 in unauthorized purchases to SeaWorld, Amazon, and PayPal
Total = $24,039.05

CBC's Sam's Club credit card:
In 2015, $22,481.61 in unauthorized purchases for Clothing, PayPal, medical, and
In 2016, $16,791.00 in unauthorized purchases for Clothing, PayPal, and Jewelry
In 2017, $28,793.63 in unauthorized purchases for Clothing and PayPal
In 2018, $22,410.10 in unauthorized purchases for Clothing, PayPal, and Bed Bath and Beyond
In 2019, $8,059.93 in unauthorized purchases for Clothing, PayPal, and Home Depot
In 2020, $187.17 in unauthorized purchases to Home Depot
Total $98,723.44

To date, a total of $768,050.73 has been identified with more than $600,000.00 of that confirmed. Further charges are pending a full audit and review from all records obtained during the investigation.

Bradley was taken into custody at her home without incident, and booked into the Polk County Jail.

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