So much bloat in sheriff’s budget over $700,000 went missing for 5-years

On Wednesday November 14, 2018, two financial division employees, one of whom has been employed for 15-years, the other for 25-years, told Sheriff David Shoar that they were concerned about “suspicious vendor accounts” being paid by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

Both employees worked for Raye Brutnell, Director of Finance, who has worked for the sheriff’s office for 27-years. At issue were (63) sixty-three checks totaling $673,422.42 written to four different fictitious vendors over the past five-years.

In a staged press conference held in the sheriff’s private office and “live streamed” on facebook, clearly designed for crisis control, Shoar glorified “the courage” of these two women for bringing their suspicion directly to him.


Since no one, including Historic City News, was able to ask any tough questions, we would like to point out that from the time Shoar says he learned of the allegations on the 14th, then contacted Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd for help on the 15th, and help arrived and a criminal investigation started on the 16th, until an arrest warrant affidavit was sworn on the 19th and Raye Brutnell surrendered herself for arrest on the 20th, there have accumulated quite a number of “tough questions” to be asked.

  • None of the three persons; neither the finance officer, budget officer, nor director of finance, changed departments in recent years (each of them received a +$2,000 bonus October 1, 2018).  What was it, specifically, that triggered their interest on that day over something that Brutnell confesses has been going on since she became director of finance five-years ago?
  • The finance officer is paid $68,334.00 and the budget officer is paid $80,449.00 annually plus benefits.  They each have participated in and administered five annual budgets during this time.  Should they not have raised these concerns before today?
  • We have seen Sheriff Shoar shed crocodile tears as he attempted to defend a higher budget before the St Johns County Commission.  He stood, straight-faced, and lied to the commissioners; telling them that his department had gone through the budget for the prior year with a “fine-tooth comb” and that, although ALL the money from the prior fiscal year had been spent, he couldn’t have operated with any amount less. We want to know if Shoar thinks $700,000 could have helped.
  • When conservative commissioner Jeb Smith questioned the sheriff’s spending this year, Shoar had to be propped up by staff members who sat behind him, feeding him figures that he was not prepared to recite. Shoar got on his high horse, throwing his weight around, attempting to intimidate or shame Smith for even asking where the millions of tax dollars were going; as if questioning the bloated budget somehow meant Smith wasn’t supporting law enforcement.  Why would you repeatedly lie to commissioners and taxpayers about unaccounted money spent or missing in your office?
  • The lead Polk County financial crimes detective, David Lopez, reported that “The total quantity of funds stolen by the defendant is in excess of $700,000.00.” During Lopez investigation, he determined that all the money was deposited into two bank accounts; one bank account belongs to Brutnell and her husband, Mark, while the second bank account belongs to her father, Charles Presby, and she is an “authorized signer”.  According to the Lopez affidavit, “of the money Brutnell embezzled only $9,000.00 remains.” Our question is when you are being paid $108,885.00 per year and your husband is paid $116,500.02 per year, and you embezzle $700,000.00 over five-years, yet only $9,000.00 remains, where is the rest of the money?
  • According to real estate listings on Realtor.com, the Brutnells put their house in South Beach at Ponte Vedra up for sale on Monday, November 19, 2018, with an asking price of $469,000. Who tipped them off that an arrest warrant affidavit was being sworn the same day?

CHARGES FILED AGAINST RAYE ANNETTE BRUTNELL

  1. Grand Theft over $100,000.00 (1 Count) F.S. 812.014(2)(a)
    Between October 10, 2013, and November 7, 2018, the defendant did willfully obtain funds belonging to St. Johns County by creating fictitious vendor accounts on behalf of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. The defendant did place the funds from these accounts into her personal banking accounts with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the funds of its use. Over the course of this timeframe, the defendant did obtain property belonging to another in excess of $100,000.00. The total quantity of funds stolen by the defendant is in excess of $700,000.00.
  2. Organized Scheme to Defraud over $50,000.00 (1 Count) F.S. 817.034(4)(a)(1)
    Between October 13, 2013, and November 7, 2018, the defendant did willfully and intentionally engage in a systemic and ongoing course of conduct with the intent to defraud one or more persons. During the listed time frame, the defendant created three fictitious vendor accounts for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. On at least 63 separate dates during this timeframe, the defendant did then create or cause to be created, bank checks related to the fictitious accounts. The defendant then forged the signatures on each of these checks and deposited them into her personal bank accounts with the intent to defraud the owner of the funds. The aggregate amount of the thefts is in excess of the $50,000.00 required by Florida Statute and in fact, the total theft of funds is in excess of $700,000.00.
  3. Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information (2 Counts) F.S. 817.568(9)
    Between November 20, 2015, and November 07, 2018, the defendant willfully created and used fraudulent and fictitious personal information to create fictitious vendor accounts at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, with the intent to commit fraud. The defendant did create counterfeit and fictitious accounts in the name of Ralph Tainer and Charles Presty. Each of these accounts was used by the defendant to create counterfeit checks. The funds from these checks were ultimately deposited into the defendant’s personal bank accounts.
  4. Forgery of Bank Checks (52 Counts) F.S. 831 .07
    Between November 20, 2015, and November 7, 2018, the defendant willfully created and used fraudulent and fictitious personal information to create fictitious vendor accounts at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, with the intent to commit fraud. The defendant did create or cause to be created, counterfeit and fictitious accounts in the name of Ralph Tainer, Charles Presty, and Ad Power. Each of these accounts, as well as an additional account of Tamberly Conner and a Sheriff’s Office Benevolent Account, were used by the defendant to create or cause to be created, counterfeit checks. The funds from these checks were ultimately deposited into the defendant’s personal bank accounts. Between the dates of November 20, 2015, and November 20, 2018, the defendant created or caused to be created, fifty-two (52) forged Bank Checks which were then deposited into her personal bank accounts.
  5. Uttering a Forged Bank Check (52 Counts) F.S. 831 .09
    Between November 20, 2015, and November 7, 2018, the defendant willfully created and used fraudulent and fictitious personal information to create fictitious vendor accounts at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, with the intent to commit fraud. The defendant did create counterfeit and fictitious accounts in the name of Ralph Tainer, Charles Presty, and Ad Power. Each of these accounts, as well as an additional account of Tamberly Conner and a Sheriff’s Office Benevolent Account, were used by the defendant to create or cause to be created, counterfeit checks. The defendant admitted to endorsing each of the fraudulent checks using the fictitious names of the payee listed on each check. Between the dates of November 20, 2015, and November 20, 2018, the defendant uttered fifty-two (52) forged Bank Checks which were then deposited into her personal bank accounts.
  6. Criminal Use of Personal Identification (1 Count) F.S. 817.568(2)(c)
    Between November 20, 2015, and November 7, 2018, the defendant willfully created and used fraudulent and fictitious personal information to create fictitious vendor accounts at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, with the intent to commit fraud. The defendant did create or cause to be created, counterfeit and fictitious accounts in the name of Ralph Tainer, Charles Presty, and Ad Power. Each of these accounts was used by the defendant to create or cause to be created, counterfeit checks. The funds from these checks were ultimately deposited into the defendant’s personal bank accounts and total in excess of $700,000.00. The defendant did create each of these fraudulent checks, with the name and signature of Sheriff David Shoar as the issuer and the unique bank account and routing number belonging to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
  7. Scheme to Defraud a Financial Institution (1 Count) F.S. 655.0322(6)
    On October 31, 2018, the defendant willfully created a fraudulent check on a fraudulent St. Johns County vendor account which the defendant previously created. The check was created for payment to Ralph Tainer in the amount of $8900.00. Bank of America called the Sheriff’s Office to report the listed check had been endorsed by a third party and deposited into the account of the defendant. The defendant approached her subordinate at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and explained she had mistakenly deposited the check payable to Ralph Tainer into her personal account. The defendant asked her subordinate to converse with the bank representative and attempt to remedy the issue. The subordinate spoke to the bank and inquired about having a stop payment placed on the check. The subordinate was advised the check had already cleared the Sheriff’s Office account and a stop payment could not be accomplished. Through her actions, the defendant did attempt to execute a scheme or artifice to defraud a financial institution.
  8. Official Misconduct (52 Counts) F.S. 838.022(1)(a)
    Between November 20, 2015 and November 7, 2018, the defendant, a public servant of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, knowingly and intentionally obtained a benefit by falsifying or causing another  person to falsify, an official record or document to wit: The defendant willfully created and used fraudulent and fictitious personal information to create three fictitious vendor accounts at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, with the intent to commit fraud. The defendant did create or cause to be created, counterfeit and fictitious accounts in the name of Ralph Tainer, Charles Presty, and Ad Power. Each of these accounts, as well as an additional account of Tamberly Conner and a Sheriff’s office Benevolent Account, were used by the defendant to create or cause to be created, counterfeit checks. The funds from these checks were ultimately uttered and deposited into the defendant’s personal bank accounts. Between the dates of November 20, 2015, and November 20, 2018, the defendant, a public servant, created or caused to be created, fifty-two (52) forged Bank Checks which were uttered and funds deposited into the defendant’s personal bank accounts.
  9. Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device (1 Count) F.S. 934.215
    Between November 20, 2015, and November 7, 2018, the defendant, while employed by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and acting in the capacity of the 1st. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Chief Financial Officer did willfully create three fictitious vendor accounts. The defendant did also create or direct to be created, sixty-three (63) forged and counterfeit bank checks made out to the counterfeit Payee listed on the fictitious accounts. The defendant then forged the Payee signatures on each of these checks and deposited them into her personal bank accounts committing the offense of uttering and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the use of the funds. Through investigative means, it has been determined that many of the deposited checks were made by mobile deposit, using a cellular phone to complete the transaction. These mobile deposits were in furtherance and facilitation of the commission of felony crimes including Grand Theft and Organized Scheme to Defraud.

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2 Comments

  1. Absolute incompetence and deceit on all levels. Sheriff Shoar’s department needs to be investigated, “with a fine-tooth comb”.

  2. Shoar was told by a News Reporter a few years back money was missing so Shoar knew….its Shoars secret….oops Shoar didnt think anyone would find out…

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