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CFO Sink Announces Arrest of Okaloosa Woman for “Granting” Herself Floridians’ Tax Dollars

12/16/2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 16, 2009
CONTACT: Kyra Jennings or Jennifer Hirst, (850) 413-2842

CFO SINK ANNOUNCES ARREST OF OKALOOSA WOMAN FOR
“GRANTING” HERSELF FLORIDIANS’ TAX DOLLARS

TALLAHASSEE – Florida CFO Alex Sink today announced the arrest of Brenda Kay Smith for using her position at Elder Services of Okaloosa County (ESOC), a community non-profit organization, to steal $3,400 in taxpayer dollars intended to help low-income residents. Smith turned herself into the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office on Monday after being confronted by CFO Sink’s investigators, and was charged with Grand Theft, a third degree felony.

“Ms. Smith not only stole aid from those who needed it most – she was also stealing from every taxpayer in the State of Florida,” said CFO Sink. “Stealing taxpayer dollars intended to help Floridians in need is intolerable, and I commend investigators with our Office of Fiscal Integrity for putting a stop to it.”

An investigation by CFO Sink’s Office of Fiscal Integrity revealed that between 2006 and 2008, Smith created fictitious documents to receive $1,200 in rental assistance, along with $2,200 to pay for utility bills at her residence.  Smith was the ESOC employee responsible for initiating and coordinating assistance through the Community Services Block Grant Program (CSBG) and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to eligible residents in Okaloosa County.

The Office of Fiscal Integrity was contacted by the Florida Department of Community Affairs’ Inspector General, when the expenditures by ESOC arose suspicion. After questioning by CFO Sink’s investigators, Smith admitted to the thefts. On Friday, December 11 an arrest warrant was issued with the assistance of the State Attorney’s Office, First Judicial Circuit.

CFO Sink’s Office of Fiscal Integrity was created in 1992 to investigate allegations of fraud, waste and abuse of state monies and resources.   The Office of Fiscal Integrity is a criminal justice agency with full statutory subpoena authority, and frequently conducts investigations jointly with local, state and federal law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.

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As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, CFO Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services.  A successful businesswoman with nearly three decades of experience in the private sector, Sink is serving her first term as Florida's CFO.  As CFO, Sink's priorities include using her business experience to cut wasteful government spending, cracking down on financial and insurance fraud and reforming the state government's contracting practices.