Police release embezzlement information

Published 12:51 am Sunday, April 20, 2008

An employee with the south Winn-Dixie grocery store was charged with embezzlement in January.

The Picayune Item was provided information on the charge after they requested it earlier this week.

Ashley Strange, 18, of 161 Jordan McQueen Rd., in Picayune was arrested Jan. 24, for the alleged embezzlement of more than $10,000 during her employment with Winn-Dixie. Records of the alleged embezzlement cover November and December 2007, said Picayune Police Deputy Chief David Ervin.

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The grocery store alerted the department on Dec. 22, 2007 concerning numerous discrepancies in paper work for which Strange was responsible. That paper work dealt with Western Union transactions, Ervin said.

Strange was charged with embezzlement and felony false pretense. A warrant was issued and Strange was picked up on that warrant, Ervin said.

Bond for Strange was set at $25,000 for the embezzlement charge and $3,000 for the felony false pretense charge. Ervin said the false pretense charge was added due to the manner in which Strange had committed the alleged embezzlement.

Information about the case was released after the Picayune Item requested it early last week. When asked if Strange was in a possible romantic relationship with a Picayune police officer Ervin said he could not attest to her romantic relationship with an officer or not. He said the department had been told of the possibility of her romantic involvement with an officer, but that information had no bearing on the investigation. Ervin said that the reason the information was not released before was because the investigation had only recently concluded.

In criminal investigations where one of the department’s employees is suspected to be romantically involved with a suspect, that officer is removed from the investigation, Ervin said.

Chief Investigator Capt. Holly Krantz said that Winn-Dixie had alerted her division of more records pertaining to Strange’s alleged illegal activity after Strange’s initial arrest. Krantz said that Winn-Dixie wanted the department to investigate the matter. Krantz estimated the total amount of money believed to have been embezzled by Strange was about $11,000.

Fifteenth District Attorney Hal Kittrell said his office has the file on Strange and the case will be presented to grand jury.