PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Deputies in Pinellas County have arrested the volunteer treasurer for a nonprofit charity in Oldsmar, accusing her of stealing more than $79,000 from the organization.
Sara Monaco, 68, is facing grand theft and scheme to defraud charges, according to an affidavit.
Deputies said she worked for the nonprofit Golfers vs. Brain Cancer as a volunteer treasurer. The charity is based out of the East Lake Woodlands Country Club, 1055 E. Lake Woodlands Parkway in Oldsmar.
According to the arrest report, in either 2014 or 2015, Monaco started writing checks to herself from the charity’s account. In October, the organization’s chairman and president discovered 28 unauthorized checks written to Monaco and Monaco’s personal business, Business Apparel World II. The checks added up to $79,239 in total, authorities said.
Deputies said Monaco admitted to be struggling financially and told them her plan to get money “spiraled out of control.”
“The defendant stated due to the pandemic, her business was at a loss financially and she felt because of her access to the organization’s account, she would write checks to herself and pay the money back later,” the arrest report stated.
Rob Goodwin is a financial expert and instructor at the University of Tampa. He believes if the organization wants to prevent any future mishaps, it may want to look at its checks and balances. “There’s a lot of inherent trust in that kind of an organization, because everybody is there to do good. So you assume that all the people that are working there with you are there to do good.,” said Goodwin. “And here, it looks like the opportunity was this person had the ability to write checks that nobody reviewed and she did the record keeping for them and so nobody caught it because nobody was looking. “
Monaco was released from the Pinellas County jail after posting a $55,000 bond.
A representative with the sheriff’s office said she could not comment on the case because it is still an open investigation.