Heather Nicole Gray
VALDOSTA — A Colquitt County woman is charged with two counts of fraud stemming from the theft of more than $300,000 from an office during a three-year period.
Heather Nicole Gray, 31, was arrested Wednesday in Tift County after failing to turn herself in to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office for the second time, Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said Friday.
Paulk said the sheriff’s office has been investigating the case for three months with the help of the United States Secret Service.
Gray was reportedly hired by a Valdosta physical therapy office in 2014 to manage the company’s finances, Paulk said. During the next three and a half years, company finances were used to pay off debts connected to the suspect and unauthorized checks were written to her from the company’s account, according to LCSO.
On one occasion, the suspect reportedly wrote herself a check for $3,000 and wrote “Merry Christmas” in the memo line to make the check look like a Christmas bonus, Paulk said.
He said Gray managed to get the attention of the Secret Service after the credit card company and a bank flagged her account for suspicious behavior.
“They thought it could be drug dealers,” he said. “They were seeing a lot of expenses charged to the credit card followed by big payments, which is what you see typically with drug dealers. ... If you turn in $10,000 to a bank, you would be flagged.”
Paulk said authorities are working closely with the Secret Service to have a grand jury indict Gray on federal charges. He also said there might be more charges to come as the investigation continues.
The sheriff warned residents to keep a close eye on their finances and to be careful who they put in charge of managing their personal or professional accounts.
Thomas Lynn is a government and education reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256
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