Ex-middle school principal stole thousands from Lakeland schools, deputies say

Ginger Collins, Polk County Sheriff's Office

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — At a colorful press conference Friday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd shared details into the arrest of former Lakeland principal Ginger Collins, 46, who is behind bars facing multiple fraud and theft charges.

Ginger Collins

The former principal of Kathleen Middle School in Lakeland was arrested for a second time Friday morning.  She is accused of stealing $105,426 from McKeel Academy, a charter school that’s also in Lakeland, and creating fake companies and a website to make her fraudulent purchases seem legitimate. The crimes occurred during her time as principal.

Judd characterized Collins as “well-versed” and “very talented in fraud and deceit online.”

He said the agency started looking backward to see what else Collins may have been up to and discovered the former principal stole at least $23,000 worth of products from Kathleen Middle School, using a school-issued credit card.

The sheriff said laptops and iPads that went missing from the school and later ended up in other states, were also traced back to Collins, who deputies believe stole the items and sold them online.

She also sold books, basketballs, graduation certificates and toner, and pocketed $5,000 to $6,000 each month, according to Judd.

“She took trips to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cancun, Rhode Island, Atlanta, and mark these trips down as marketing expenses, and advertising,” he said when we first reported the story. “She went on a shopping spree of almost a year.”

Collins’ other purchases include a fat blaster, a portable urine funnel and an $85 “Nit Wit” brand beanie.

Sheriff Grady Judd holds up a sign at a press conference Friday.

The sheriff said Collins earned a $100,000 salary. She was living in a $300,000 home and driving a Mercedes-Benz.

“Newsflash! Her jail cell won’t be near as nice as her $300,000 home or her Mercedes,” said Judd.

“She had some short-term wins, but will pay a horrible price in long run,” he continued. “She was bold, she was brash and now she’s in jail.”

Collins resigned from her role after she was confronted by colleagues in September 2016, and was first arrested on January 10 and charged with grand theft, fraud, fraudulent use of credit card, money laundering, and criminal use of personal ID. She was released two days later on a $39,000 bond.

Judd said detectives found a thumb drive in Collins’ possession that contained artwork with “Too Pretty To Work,” and “Who Gives A Flock,” written on an image in text.

“By the way, we do,” said Judd at Friday’s press conference.  “We thought, well heck, she may be too pretty to work, but she’s “not too pretty to go to jail.”

Upon further investigation, Collins was taken into custody Friday.  It’s unclear what additional charges she faces at this time.

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