PCSO detectives arrested two women on Friday, February 3, 2012, who worked for Jack’s Insurance, Inc., in Lakeland after investigation revealed that together they stole over $422,000 from the company.
According to the affidavits (see attached), Cynthia Applewhite and Sherryl Devine began working for Jack’s Insurance, Inc., 4710 New Tampa Hwy in Lakeland, in 2004. The business is an insurance broker that locates and facilitates insurance contracts for its customers.
In June 2007, one of the two active partners, Maria Applewhite, retired. Upon her retirement, Cynthia Applewhite (Maria’s daughter-in-law) and Sherryl Devine (Maria’s daughter) were promoted to licensed insurance agents, enabling them to quote, sell, and accept payments for insurance policies. While Maria was a partner at the company, cash payments were not accepted. When Maria left, Cynthia and Sherryl began accepting cash payments, telling other employees in the business not to document the cash payments received as “cash.” These and all other fraudulent transactions were done out of sight of the remaining active partner, Christine Mansell.
Cynthia Applewhite and Sherryl Devine, from July 2007 to October 2010, accepted cash payments from customers intended for deposit into the Jack’s Insurance business account to pay insurance premiums, but the two women instead pocketed the cash. The two women did in fact make the payments from the Jack’s Insurance business account to the cash-paying customers’ insurance providers, so the customers’ premiums were paid. An audit of the business account shows a total loss of $252,600 due to this form of theft.
Cynthia and Sherryl also forged refund checks as a method of stealing money from the business. The women issued refund checks to “customers” who were not actually due any money. The checks were deposited into Cynthia or Sherryl’s personal bank accounts instead. An audit of the business account shows a total loss of $152,800 due to this form of theft.
The women also paid themselves from the Jack’s Insurance business account “commission” and “pay advances," signing the checks for each other on behalf of the business. An audit of the business account shows a total loss of $7,500 due to this form of theft.
Additionally, Sherryl Devine paid several of her own bills from the Jack’s Insurance business account, including her mortgage, insurance, auto loan, and car repairs. An audit of the business account shows a total loss of $9,600 due to this form of theft.
On Friday, February 3, 2012, Cynthia Applewhite, DOB 12/29/1979, of 3404 Groveview Drive in Lakeland, was placed under arrest and booked into the Polk County Jail on one count Scheming to Defraud (F-1) and one count Grand Theft Over $100,000 (F-1). She posted bond and was released on Saturday, February 4th.
On Friday, February 3, 2012, Sherryl Devine, DOB 4/23/1972, of 2421 6th Avenue West in Bradenton, was placed under arrest and booked into the Manatee County Jail on a Polk County warrant for one count Scheming to Defraud (F-1) and one cuont Grand Theft Over $100,000 (F-1). She will be held there until she is transported to Polk County.
“Can you believe these two thieves? Their poor mother/mother-in-law trusted these women to run the family business, and this is how they repay her – by stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars! That is one of the lowest things people can do – steal from honest hard-working people who trust them. They should be made to pay every penny back, with interest!” – Sheriff Grady Judd