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Lehigh woman accused of cashing phony school district checks

Lehigh woman accused of cashing phony school district checks

By Matt Grant. CREATED May 9, 2012

FORT MYERS - A Lehigh Acres woman is accused of trying to take $1884 from the Lee County School District using fake checks.

Tina Groff, 27, was arrested Tuesday and faces grand theft and check counterfeiting charges. Groff tried to cash fake checks that looked like they were from the Lee County School District, according to deputies.

"I'm shocked," said Lee County School board member Don Armstrong. "I'm disturbed somebody would even think about stealing money from kids."

Groff is not a school district employee but investigators confirm the district's bank account and routing numbers were compromised.

The checks were cashed at Walmart's across Lee County, including one on Pine Island Road in North Fort Myers.

"Any idea how the school district's bank account information was compromised?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"I have no idea," said Armstrong. "It troubles me a lot because it makes me wonder if something like this happened, has it happened before, that maybe we didn't catch it?"

Bank of America alerted the district to the suspicious activity and the sheriff's office began investigating last month.

Deputies were able to track Groff down through surveillance video and the fact she signed her real name on the phony checks.

While Groff was the only one arrested the police report specifically mentions "suspects" were identified in the surveillance video. Fox 4 asked the sheriff's office if more arrests could be coming.

"I cant confirm or deny that," said Sgt. David Velez, with the Lee County Sheriff's Office. "It's still an open investigation and we'll see how it all ends in the end."

"Fair to say it's a possibility?," asked Grant.

"Possibility?," said Velez, "Anything is possible, yes, sir."

A possibility that isn't sitting well with Armstrong.

"It's the taxpayers money, it's not mine," said Armstrong. "So we need to find out what happened and how to resolve it and resolve it quickly."

A district spokesperson wouldn't comment citing the ongoing investigation but said they are working closely with law enforcement.

District statement:

"The District’s procedure is that no comments, interviews or information can be provided concerning any sort of open investigation. It would be inappropriate to do so – we must let the investigatory process work and any information or comment provided could hinder said process. The District is working closely with law enforcement officials in this case, but no other information can be shared at this time."

Matt Grant