Former employee accused of stealing over $100,000 from Lakeland charter school

Ginger Collins, Polk County Sheriff's Office

LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) — A Lakeland woman was arrested Tuesday by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office after stealing more than $100,000 from Seth McKeel Academy, a charter school in Lakeland.Ginger Collins

45-year-old Ginger Collins was a former Assistant Director of Academics for the school until her resignation on September 16, 2016. She is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from the organization and creating fake companies and website to make her purchases appear legitimate.

Collins was charged is facing seven felony charges including Grand Theft, Obtain Property by Fraud, Fraudulent Use of Credit Card, Money Launder Transaction, and three counts of Criminal Use of Personal Identification.

“She took trips to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cancun, Rhode Island, Atlanta, and mark these trips down as marketing expenses, and advertising,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

According to investigators her spending didn’t end there. The stolen money was used to buy items such as a fat blaster, a portable urine funnel, and an $85 “Nit Wit” brand beanie. A fitting purchase, according to Sheriff Grady Judd. “Well the nit wit hat goes on a nit wit,” he said.

Despite all of that, it was the purchase of a prom dress and fake eyelashes on a school credit card that finally tipped someone off. “She went on a shopping spree of almost a year,” Judd said.

So where was the oversight?  Eight on Your Side went to McKeel Academy to ask that very question, but we were turned away.

Alan Black, DIrector of Schools emailed this statement: “We are pleased that the investigation has been completed. McKeel is ready to move forward.”

Collins previously a principal at Kathleen High School and Middle School in Lakeland. Sheriff Grady Judd said investigators are looking into whether she stole anything during her tenure there.

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