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Secretary accused of stealing more than $750K from Winter Haven church

Sharon McClelland Bradley faces charges of grand theft, fraud, forgery and money laundering, among other charges.
Credit: Polk County Jail

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — A secretary in Polk County has been arrested and is accused of stealing more than $750,000 from the church she worked at. 

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Sharon McClelland Bradley, 62, was a finance secretary at Calvary Baptist Church since 2008. Late last year, the sheriff's office said the head deacon requested copies of the church bank statements following a report from a church staff member, who said they saw a $225,000 line of credit connected to another account that did not belong to the church.

Investigators said Bradley realized an audit was being done and she retired. Then, the church contacted the sheriff's office to do an investigation into the possible theft of church funds.

The sheriff's office sent 20 subpoenas to various banks and credit card companies that had church accounts. 

"It was clear that the line of credit Bradley obtained was being used to put money into CBC accounts, which she was then stealing," the sheriff's office said in a release.

Detectives say there is still a balance of $190,000 on the line of credit that the church will be responsible for paying off.

In the release from the sheriff's office, investigators list fraudulent charges beginning in mid-2015. According to detectives, the bank and credit card companies showed:

  • More than $527,000 in charges for credit cards
  • Nearly $99,000 in charges for a Sam's Club credit card
  • More than $117,000 deposited into Bradley's Mid-Florida Credit Union account 
  • More than $24,000 in unauthorized purchases connected to the church's SunTrust Bank account

Investigators said the money stolen from the church went to car payments, paying for a new pool at Bradley's home, clothing and beauty supplies, Netflix, Wayfair and Bed, Bath and Beyond, Amazon, SeaWorld, PayPal, Match.com and Home Depot, among other places.

The sheriff's office said a total of $768,050.73 has been identified with more than $600,000 of that confirmed. More charges are pending a full audit and review from all records obtained during the investigation.

Detectives said Bradley faces the following charges:

  • Grand theft over $100,000
  • Fraud
  • Criminal use of personal ID
  • Fraudulent use of credit cards
  • Forgery
  • Uttering false instrument
  • Money laundering

She was arrested at her home and booked into the Polk County Jail.

Grady Judd holds news conference

Grady Judd holds news conference WATCH NOW: Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is holding a news conference about a secretary who is accused of stealing money from a Polk County church. https://bit.ly/3eL1Zn0

Posted by 10 Tampa Bay on Wednesday, July 1, 2020

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