On Wednesday, Gainesville Police Department detective Chris King filed Grand Theft and Scheme to Defraud charges on a former American Red Cross employee after an investigation revealed that she allegedly stole over $200,000.
In June of this year, local Red Cross employees discovered several case files that potentially involved fraudulent transactions all with ties to one employee, Casey Marie Schmelz, 29 of Gainesville. An anonymous report was made to the American Red Cross hotline to report the possible fraud. An internal audit of the cases then confirmed approximately 60 cases that involved possible fraudulent activity by Schmelz. As a result of the internal investigation, Schmelz was terminated. She had a working relationship with the American Red Cross for approximately 5 years.
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 allegedly discovered a username and password of another employee that had authorization to add funds to the debit cards. Schmelz may have logged into the system, loaded funds onto a debit card, then personally retrieved the cash from local ATMs.
The internal audit revealed that Schmelz may have 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. Authorities suspect that Schmelz used the funds by way of surveillance video, transaction history and her own statements. The American Red Cross was extremely helpful during the course of this investigation.
Detective King said fellow American Red Cross employees were extremely disappointed by Shmelz's actions. "These people were like her family" said King. "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 who will determine if formal charges will be filed in the case.