CLERK & COMPTROLLER’S GUARDIANSHIP INVESTIGATION RESULTS IN SECOND ARREST
Mother accused of stealing more than $37,000 from teen’s guardianship account
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (April 22, 2013) – A Lake Worth woman acting as a guardian for her son was arrested and charged with allegedly stealing more than $37,000 from her son’s guardianship bank account, after an investigation by Clerk Sharon Bock’s Division of Inspector General.
Melody May Henderson, 33, was arrested by deputies from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on April 16. She faces one count of grand theft.
“This program is working,” Clerk Bock said. “My guardianship fraud auditors are getting tips, conducting investigations, and turning those investigations over to law enforcement for criminal prosecution. We’ve now had two arrests in four months, and returned more than $96,000 stolen from minors’ guardianship bank accounts.”
Henderson’s arrest is the second resulting from an investigation by the Guardianship Fraud Program. The Clerk & Comptroller’s guardianship fraud auditors received a tip in September 2012 and began its investigation. They discovered Henderson allegedly took $37,213.30 that her son received from a lawsuit settlement. The money had been placed in a restricted bank which required a judge’s permission for money to be withdrawn.
Henderson said she used the money to pay for her son’s medical bills, and to purchase a car to drive him. She couldn’t account for approximately $20,000 of the missing money.
Clerk Bock launched the Guardianship Fraud Hotline in September 2011, to give people a way to anonymously report suspicious activity in guardianship cases. The hotline was the first of its kind in Palm Beach County, and among the first in Florida.
Anyone who suspects a guardian, family member, attorney or caregiver of improper financial activities such as stealing money from a ward’s account, selling off a ward’s property or making suspicious loans or money transfers is urged to call (561) 355-FRAUD (355-3728). Reports also can be made by e-mail to email@example.com, or online through the Clerk’s Guardianship Fraud Hotline page, at www.mypalmbeachclerk.com/fraud.
For more information about the Clerk’s office, please visit www.mypalmbeachclerk.com or call (561) 355-2996.
The Florida Constitution established the independent office of the Clerk & Comptroller as a public trustee, responsible for safeguarding public records and public funds. Clerk Sharon Bock is directly elected by and accountable to Palm Beach County residents. In addition to the roles of Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Recorder and Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, the Clerk & Comptroller is the Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Auditor for Palm Beach County.
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