A former American Red Cross employee is charged with grand theft and fraud after a Gainesville police detective said she stole more than $200,000 from the organization.
In June, Red Cross employees discovered several case files that potentially involved fraudulent transactions all related to the organization's North Central Florida emergency services manager, Casey Schmelz, according to police. An anonymous report was made to the American Red Cross hotline to report the possible fraud.
An internal audit of the cases then confirmed about 60 cases that involved possible fraudulent activity by Schmelz, police said. As a result of the internal investigation, Schmelz, 29, was terminated about about five years working with the American Red Cross.
One of the ways the American Red Cross administers disaster relief is to issue debit cards to victims with a cash amount based on their emergency. The debit cards are intended to be utilized to purchase food, clothing and basic human necessities. Persons receiving the debit cards are documented in case files.
It was revealed that Schmelz discovered a username and password of another employee that had authorization to add funds to the debit cards, police said. They said Schmelz would log into the system, load funds onto a debit card, then personally retrieve cash from local ATMs.
The internal audit revealed that Schmelz had been engaging in this fraudulent behavior since 2011, and in that time accessed a total of $203,648.21 in cash from the American Red Cross, police said.
Schmelz was discovered to have used the funds by way of surveillance video, transaction history and her own statements, police said.
Detective Chris King said fellow American Red Cross employees were extremely disappointed by Shmelz's actions.
"These people were like her family," King said. "She was working for a company that is designed to help others. She lost sight of that mission with her criminal behavior."
A sworn complaint affidavit has been filed with the state attorney's office, which will determine if formal charges will be filed in the case.