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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Wood, Donna

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 1/11/2017 

 PCSO Detectives Arrest former Assistant Director of Academics for McKeel Academy  


On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, Polk County Sheriff's Office detectives arrested 45-year-old Ginger Collins of Black Hawk Lane in Lakeland, for grand theft, fraud, fraudulent use of credit card, money laundering, and criminal use of personal ID. She resigned from the school in September 2016, when confronted by school officials about suspected fraud and theft (total amount stolen, $105,426), and was arrested by PCSO on January 10, 2017, on the aforementioned charges.  

The following is an excerpt from her affidavit, and is self-explanatory: 

PRB_CAUS
On 09/16/2016 Alan Black, Director of the Schools of McKeel Academy, and Assistant Director of Operations Julie Ehnle contacted the Polk County Sheriff's Office to report the embezzlement and theft of school funds by a former known Administrator. The suspect was identified as Ginger Collins, also known as Ginger Rosenau, who served as the Assistant Director of Academics until her resignation on the same date of 09/16/2016.

The defendant resigned when Director Alan Black confronted her about the theft and fraudulent accounting scheme. Director Black further advised Ginger Collins confessed to the theft, fraudulent activity, and intentionally altering invoices when confronted before her resignation. The confession was witnessed by the defendant's sister, identified as Kaci Gingras, who later provided a sworn recorded interview confirming the initial report.

Director Alan Black reported the defendant was hired in July 2015 and worked at his office located at 1810 West Parker Street, Lakeland, Polk County, Florida. During this time of employment Ginger Collins had access to five (5) credit card accounts belonging to the Schools of McKeel Academy. The accounts, funds contained within the accounts and subsequent lines of credit, were all the property of the school with each account paid in full on a monthly basis. The five (5) credit cards involved were identified as American Express Gold account numbers: 3715 581977 8 1097, 3715 581977 8 2095, American Express Business account number: 3795 732013 4 1079, and Capital One Visa, account numbers 4154 1785 9851 4205 and 4154 1785 9851 0624.

The defendant was only authorized to use these accounts for approved school related items or functions. At no time was Ginger Collins authorized or permitted to use the funds for personal use or gain. The defendant had routine access and use of the above listed accounts for the purpose of making travel arrangements for eighteen (18) McKeel Academy staff members to attend a trip to Finland in December 2016. Defendant Ginger Collins was tasked with making travel arrangements as part of her duties. The defendant also supervised fund raising activities and a transitional program budget.

Assistant Director of Operations Julie Ehnle advised your affiant The Schools of McKeel Academy accounting department initially noticed suspicious transactions on the defendant's assigned Capital One Visa account ending with # 4205 in early September 2016. Defendant Ginger Collins used the account to purchase a prom dress and false eyelashes. The two (2) transactions did not appear to be academic related and were not approved by the school.  The defendant wrote "Legacy Funds" and "Marketing" across the receipts she turned in, but the purchases could not be attributed toward a specific program or class.

The incident prompted additional auditing during which significant discrepancies were documented. A detailed review of the defendant's expenses confirmed Ginger Collins initially  stole more than $47,000 from her employer, The Schools of McKeel Academy, while making travel arrangements for the staff trip to Finland. Assistant Director Julie Ehnle confirmed $150,000 was budgeted for the Finland trip, but the actual cost was closer to $95,000. As the trip planner, the defendant became aware of the undocumented surplus and devised a scheme to covertly steal the money.

Electronic evidence, certified bank records and the defendant's admissions confirm she created three (3) separate and fictitious companies that do not exist. These companies are identified as Elite Travel, the main instrument through which most of the theft was conducted, Finpeda and Atticusprint. Atticusprint was purported to be a print and marketing company. All three companies were created by the defendant who, records show, also established an internet website for Elite Travel through the website domain Square Space under <http://elitetravel.squarespace.com.> The $30 a month rental fee for this site was paid for by a McKeel Academy credit card assigned to Ginger Collins. These monthly invoices were billed to the school as "marketing and advertisement" by the defendant.

Ginger Collins then used different credit card processing sites to bill and invoice The Schools of McKeel Academy for fictitious products or services. SquareUp and PayPal were initially used for payment processing, and the services of Stripe was later added to avoid suspicion and detection.

Evidence shows the defendant opened several different fraudulent Paypal accounts in the name of Julie Ehnle, and two (2) other identified McKeel Academy staff members, Lauren Hazell and Olivia Hazell, without their knowledge to avoid routing numerous transactions through the same vender. All of these Paypal accounts were linked to the defendant by her email records and telephone number.

Evidence collected from the certified records of the Sun Trust Bank, and other financial institutions, established the defendant intentionally routed payments from these three (3) companies into her joint account that she owns with her two (2) children, Jake and Jaci Iatarola. A confirmed trail has been documented from the five (5) McKeel Academy credit cards issued to the defendant, through her self-created companies, and into her joint Sun Trust bank account. The defendant then transferred the funds into her individual personal checking account. Bank records show these funds were used to buy clothing, pay personal bills, purchase home furnishings and make personal credit card payments.

Defendant Ginger Collins utilized her work computer to create, manipulate, and email fraudulent invoices to herself. She would then intentionally submit the fraudulent documents to her employer. Ginger Collins' scheme ensured the total amount of each invoice, documenting fictitious services, would match the purchase amounts on the school's incoming credit card statements.  

At the conclusion of the accounting audit, it was determined former employee Ginger Collins intentionally stole $102,432.14 of school funds from The Schools of McKeel Academy. This includes unauthorized purchases and transactions routed through her fraud scheme. The theft was conducted through the five (5) credit cards identified above. Your affiant has conducted an independent review of the certified bank records, certified credit card statements, invoices, receipts, and transactions to confirm over $105,426.34 was stolen from the victim. The affiant observed the altered invoices in which the actual description of what was purchased was intentionally changed to appear to be school related expenses. Your affiant conducted sworn recorded interviews confirming the theft as described.

Between the dates of November 2015 and September 2016 Ginger Collins created three fictitious businesses through online and mobile payment processing services. Collins charged the victim's credit cards through the services and submitted fraudulent invoices to match the credit card statement transactions. The funds were deposited into two separate bank accounts and the defendant then transferred the deposits into her personal individual account. This process was committed intentionally by the defendant to conceal the funds.

The defendant made unauthorized purchases with the victim's credit cards for personal purchases. The defendant altered invoices and created fictitious invoices to conceal the actual items purchased. The defendant's intentional actions and course of conduct defrauded the victim of over $100,000.      

Charges

Charge

Counts

Level

Charge Literal

Warrant No

Warrant ORI

Other Booking No

896.101 (5)(B)

1

F2

MONEY LAUNDER TRANS.

 

 

 

817.034(4)(A)1.

1

F1

OBTAIN PROPERTY BY F

 

 

 

817.568(2)(A)..

3

F3

CRIMINAL USE OF PERS

 

 

 

817.61....

1

F3

FRAUDULENT USE OF CR

 

 

 

812.014(2)(A)1

1

F1

GRAND THEFT - $100,0