TAMPA. (WFLA) — A former financial aid specialist at Manatee Technical College (MTC) faces charges for allegedly pocketing between $106,000 and $302,000 in student tuition reimbursements, according to an affidavit from the Manatee County Sherriff’s Office.
Daisy Gulsby, 56, who went by “Michelle” while working on campus, had assisted students for nearly seven years by providing financial guidance to pay for college.
Detectives say Gulsby told students with extra funds from their Pell grant to deposit their checks at the bank and get money orders for the same amount. She then told students she would send the excess money back to Tallahassee so the funds could be reapplied to the students’ next semester.
Gulsby told the students the money order would be free if they were $1,000 or less.
Authorities say the money orders were given to Gulsby without a purchaser written in. Gulsby then wrote “MTC” in the “Pay to the Order of” section with large spacing between the letters. After she was given the money orders, the “MTC” was modified to read “Michelle Daisy Gulsby.”
The “M” in MTC was written out to be Michelle, the “T” altered to be the “D” in Daisy” and the “C” was altered to be the “G” in Gulsby, according to the sheriff.
Detectives said the modified “T” and “C” could still clearly be seen within Gulsby’s name on the money orders.
After speaking with other students, investigators say Gulsby gave “various deceptive reasons” for why money orders should be returned, even telling one student they would be arrested if they did not return the extra funds.
Gulsby’s account received 428 money orders adding to the total she’s accused of taking, according to the sheriff’s office.
“No student that I contacted gave Daisy money orders so she could deposit them in her account,” Detective Lorenzo Waiters Jr. said in an affidavit.
Police say a total of 425 money orders are suspected of being made from MTC students in the amount of $302,000.
Court documents stated, “While employed as a financial aid specialist, Daisy conducted a systematic, ongoing course of conduct where she deceived students into giving her money orders under the guise of being required to return excess Pell grant funds.”
MTC staff confirmed with police that students are not required to pay or give back excess Pell grant funds.