On Thursday, April 4, 2013, Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 48-year-old Mary Scalise, DOB 12/14/1964, 121 Wild Flower Drive, Lake Wales, charging her with Fraud, Grand Theft and Money Laundering.
Detectives learned over the course of two years, Scalise had repeatedly defrauded her employer, Orange Industrial Services, located in Davenport.
As office manager, Scalise had access to a debit card for the business’ bank account. The owners of OIS reported discovering Scalise had been using the debit card to conduct numerous unauthorized charges for her own personal benefit. When detectives questioned Scalise at the time of the discovery, she admitted to using a different company bank account to deposit funds into from the main account to hide the theft and allow for her continued use of the debit card. She confessed to having continued this activity for several years.
Bank records indicated the business funds were used repeatedly by Scalise to make purchases at Wal-Mart, Publix, and gas stations; make payments to her own personal credit card accounts; conduct multiple ATM cash withdrawals; conduct multiple purchases of high end women's accessories and personal jewelry, and pay for vacations. A thorough audit revealed that beginning on January 1, 2011, through January 2, 2013, Scalise had stolen $186,943.27.
An arrest warrant was obtained for Mary Scalise for the charges of Scheme to Defraud (over $50,000)-F1, Grand Theft (over $100,000)-F1, and two counts of Money Laundering (over $20,000/under $100,000 within 12 months)-F2. Scalise was arrested at her home without incident yesterday, April 4, booked into the Polk County Jail and bonded out this morning, Friday, April 5, 2013, on a $40,000 bond. Her first court appearance is scheduled for 8:15 am, May 7, 2013.
PCSO fraud detectives strongly encourage businesses to have routine and regular audits to help detect theft and fraud. Audits can also be a significant deterrent to fraud or criminal activity because thieves seize opportunity where weak internal controls exist. Relying on “trusted employees” is not enough—there must be regular reviews of all bank account activity and ongoing reconciliations regarding business expenses, cash, and sales. Business owners should consult accounting professionals to create strong internal financial controls. The old Russian proverb is true: “Trust, But Verify.”